After dismantling NAU at Gampel on Monday, the Huskies return to action and open up the XL Center slate against Stonehill. The Skyhawks enter the season 1-1 after getting throttled by George Washington before beating Army. Stonehill currently ranks No. 343 in KenPom in his second season at the Division I level.
Radio: UConn Sports Network
Dept: UConn -28.5, over/under 139.5
KenPom Predicted Score: Well 6 UConn 85, Stonehill 52 | 99.9 percent win probability
Notes: For the first time in recent memory, UConn will also unveil a banner at the XL Center. The ceremony will start at 11:30 am and doors will open at 10:30 am
What to watch for
Samson Johnson making a difference
Samson Johnson had a great start to the season and should continue to help UConn flex its low-post advantages in a game like this. Johnson scored 11 points and added five boards in the win over NAU in 18 minutes, but still flirted with foul trouble with four personal fouls.
Johnson will have another significant height and athleticism advantage on Saturday, and with Clingan still getting in game shape, Johnson could see more playing time than Clingan, just like he did in the season opener.
Karaban to keep cruising
Alex Karaban looks to be making the jump from freshman role player to key contributor this season after dropping a career-high 22 points against the Lumberjacks on Monday. Karaban looks more comfortable looking for his own shots this season and has already displayed an improved ability to beat defenders off the dribble. With a smaller Stonehill lineup, it might be a good time to try him at five in the small-ball lineup again after playing there for a handful of minutes on Monday.
Castle getting comfortable
Freshman phenom Stephon Castle took some time to get used to college ball, scoring four points but picking up three fouls and adding two turnovers in the first half against Northern Arizona. After Hassan Diarra started in Castle’s place to open the second half, Castle finished strong and showed flashes of what makes him one of the top NBA prospects in college basketball. He finished with 12 points and just one turnover in the final minutes and capped the game off with an impressive isolation move in the final minutes.
Castle’s continued growth will be exciting to watch.
78.1 – UConn’s two-point shooting percentage in the win over NAU, the best mark ever posted by the Huskies in the KenPom era (since 1999)
15 – Minutes for Clingan against the Lumberjacks as the sophomore star works his way back from a foot strain. He was still an impact force on both ends with 12 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks but may play closer to his 20-minute cap on Saturday.
88.9 – Stonehill’s offensive efficiency rating through their two games. The mark ranks 358th nationally out of 362 Division I teams. The team with the worst offensive rating in the country, Mississippi Valley State, comes to Hartford and plays UConn on Tuesday.
41 – Three-point percentage for Max Zegarowski, one of Stonehill’s starting guards. Zegarowski’s brother Marcus terrorized UConn at Creighton when the Huskies first joined the conference, and Max is an offensive weapon in his own right. He hit two of three 3-pointers against UConn last season and is currently 6-13 (46.2 percent) from deep this season.
3 – This Stonehill team has some interesting ties to UConn: forward Todd Brogna is hometown friends with Alex Karaban; senior guard Jackson Benigni is a Connecticut native and Husky fan who attended Xavier and Hamden Hall; and Tony Felder played AAU with Donovan Clingan, according to an interview with Skyhawks’ head coach Chris Kraus on https://twitter.com/CTScoreboardPod/status/1722717817009541143.