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STORRS, Conn. – New Year’s Eve will allow the UConn men’s basketball team an opportunity to finish 2016 with a victory when it travels to play Tulsa in American Athletic Conference action on Saturday at 2 p.m. (ET).
The Huskies (5-7), coming off a 62-46 loss to Houston on Wednesday, plays their first road game since Dec. 10 at Ohio State. The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.
Freshman guard Christian Vital scored a career-high 15 points, while shooting 4-of-8 from three-point range, in the loss to the Cougars. He added five rebounds, four assists, and three steals in 40 minutes of play.
It is the first time UConn has lost a conference-opener since a 57-53 overtime loss to Temple at the XL Center on Dec. 31, 2014.
UConn has a 4-2 record in games following losses this season, showing resolve coming off a defeat. In those six games, the Huskies are outscoring (66.0/63.0), outrebounding (37.8/35.2) and outshooting (.442/.392) their opponents.
The AAC schedule now begins full force, with the Huskies playing at Tulsa on Saturday and at Memphis on Thursday, Jan. 5. UConn went 11-7 in league play last season, eventually resulting in an American Athletic Conference championship.
UConn is 4-2 in the all-time series with Tulsa and has won three of the past four meetings.
Tulsa (6-6, 0-0 American) is riding a two-game losing skid coming into Saturday after losses to San Diego State and Illinois State. Junior guard Jaleel Wheeler leads the team with 12.4 points per game.
Redshirt junior forward Junior Etou has been the most consistent player for the Golden Hurricane, averaging 12.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest.
It will be the conference opener for Tulsa, which is 2-1 in league-opening games since the inception of the American Athletic Conference. The Huskies split with the Golden Hurricane in 2015-16.
BY THE NUMBERS
5: Games this season that Vital has led the Huskies in steals. He has a team-high 16 steals in his 11 appearances to this point.
41.4%: Shooting percentage of UConn in the past four games. Opponents were held to 37-percent in those games.
71.5: Average amount of points for UConn when playing road or neutral site games this season. They are averaging 60.5 points at home.