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UConn Returns Home to Face Miami

HARTFORD, CT (February 17) --The eighth-ranked Connecticut men’s basketball team returns home to face BIG EAST opponent Miami on Wednesday night at the Hartford Civic Center. Game time is set for 7:00 pm and will be televised locally on WTXX Channel 20. The game marks the last time the Huskies will be aired on a local network as UConn’s five remaining regular season games will be shown on national television.

UConn has lost its last two games and holds an overall record of 19-5. The Huskies are now third in the BIG EAST behind Pittsburgh and Providence with a record of 7-3. Miami stands in 14th place in the BIG EAST standings ahead of St. John’s. The Hurricanes are 13-12 overall and hold a record of 3-8 in conference action.

Connecticut and Miami will meet for the 23rd time on Wednesday night. Connecticut holds the all-time 15-7 series advantage. UConn has won three of the last five meetings and in 2002-03, the teams split the two-game series each taking wins on the road. UConn head coach Jim Calhoun has coached in all but one game in the series against the Hurricanes which came on December 27, 1956, a 74-70 Husky win. The last nine meetings between UConn and Miami have been decided by seven points or less.

The Huskies look to jump out from its two-game skid on Wednesday night. The Huskies currently rank No. 1 nationally in four different NCAA statistical categories. UConn is No. 1 in field goal percentage defense, rebound margin, assists and blocked shots. Junior Emeka Okafor leads the nation in blocked shots. The Huskies are also on top of 10 BIG EAST statistical categories. UConn leads in scoring offense and margin, field goal percentage, field goal percentage defense, three-point field goal percentage, rebounding offense and margin, blocked shots, assists and assist/turnover ratio.

Okafor is averaging 19.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.7 blocked shots per game in 2003-04. He has 15 double-doubles on the season (No. 1 in the nation) and has double-figure rebounds in 17 contests. With Okafor’s four blocked shots in UConn's loss at Notre Dame (February 9), he became only the 14th player in NCAA history to record 400 career blocked shots.

Junior Ben Gordon is scoring 17.9 points per game. Over the last three games, upon returning from a shooting slump, Gordon has averaged 23 points per game and is shooting 48.1% from the field (26-of-54). Sophomore Denham Brown and freshman Charlie Villanueva join Gordon and Okafor in double-figure scoring. Brown has netted 11.6 points per game while Villanueva is averaging 11.1 points per game.

Senior Taliek Brown leads the Huskies at 6.5 assists per game this season. He is first in the BIG EAST and 10th in the nation. He has 25 assists and just three turnovers in the last three games. He ranks No. 2 on UConn’s all-time assists list with 625 career assists.

Calhoun has been head coach at Connecticut for 18 seasons and a collegiate head coach for 32 years. Overall he holds a record of 666-301 and he stands with a 418-164 record at UConn. Calhoun ranks eighth among NCAA Division I Winningest Active Coaches, three games behind fellow BIG EAST coach Jim Boeheim of Syracuse. Calhoun was recently named one of 16 finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Hurricanes are on a seven-game losing streak after falling to Syracuse on Saturday. Forward Darius Rice went over the 1,000-point mark in BIG EAST games with a 14-point effort, but left the game with 15:02 to play with a mid-foot sprain. He is not expected to play in Wednesday night’s game. Four of Miami’s 11 BIG EAST games this season have gone into overtime periods. In those games, Miami is winless having lost to Pittsburgh, Georgetown, Rutgers and Boston College.

Rice leads the squad in scoring and rebounding averaging 16.7 points and 6.3 boards per game. Robert Hite and Guillermo Diaz are also in double-figure scoring. Hite has tallied 16.0 points and Diaz is at 12.2 points per game. Armondo Surratt has a team-high 106 assists.

Miami head coach Perry Clark is in his fourth season at the helm of the Hurricanes and 15th overall as a collegiate head coach. Clark is 64-50 at Miami while his overall career record stands at 249-195.