Dec. 15, 2013
STORRS, Conn. – The top-two teams in the country will square off on Tuesday evening when No. 1 UConn travels to face No. 2 Duke. The Huskies (10-0) and Devils (10-0) will both place undefeated records on the line when they tipoff at 7pm EST on Dec. 17 as part of the Jimmy V Classic. The top matchup in the country will be featured on a national stage with televised coverage provided by ESPN2. The duo of Dave O’Brien and Doris Burke will be on the call.
The top-ranked Huskies enter Tuesday’s contest riding a six-game win streak against the Blue Devils, with Duke last taking a game from Connecticut in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. UConn also owns the all-time record against Duke, building a 9-3 overall edge against its ACC foe.
When the two teams met at center court in January of last season, the Huskies exited Gampel Pavilion with a 30-point victory over the Blue Devils by a 79-49 margin. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis knocked down a game-high 21 points and grabbed six rebounds while Kelly Faris notches an 18 point, 12 rebound double-double. Breanna Stewart also made her way into double-figures with 13 points on a 5-for-7 showing from the floor.
UConn extended its commanding lead over the national rankings for the sixth consecutive week as the unanimous number one choice according to the latest Associated Press Poll released on Dec. 9. No stranger to top-ranked battles, Tuesday’s game will mark UConn’s eighteenth time participating in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown. Of those situations, UConn emerged with the overwhelming majority of the contests with a record of 14-3 from both the No. 1 and the No. 2 perspective. Overall, the Huskies are 305-14 when playing as the nation’s top-ranked team. The team has gone 36-9 against top-10 opponents dating back to the 2008-09 season.
A challenging stretch against three consecutive ranked opponents in November provided an early measuring stick for the UConn squad. The Huskies sealed wins against then-No. 3 Stanford, No. 8 Maryland, and No. 13 Penn State by an average margin of victory totaling 18 points.
The senior duo of Bria Hartley (North Babylon, N.Y.) and Stefanie Dolson (Port Jervis, N.Y.) has packed a one-two punch as veteran leaders on a Connecticut team leading the nation in field goal percentage (52.4%). A dynamic presence on the offensive and a consistently stingy defender, Hartley is averaging over five assists per game with a team-best 4.3 assist-to-turnover ratio that ranks fourth in the country. In the team’s last outing against UC-Davis on Dec. 5, Hartley breezed to 20 points by the end of the first half, marking the third time this season she has surpassed the 20 point plateau in a single game. More impressively, the guard did not miss an attempt from behind the 3-point arc on a perfect 5-for-5 night from downtown. Hartley and Dolson are two of five Huskies averaging double-figure points with 15.4 and 14.5 points per game, respectively. In addition to her offensive prowess, Dolson is bringing down an average 10.0 rebounds per game to lead the team in boards. Of the 10 games played so far this season, both seniors have only been held below double-digit point performances in three contests.
Sophomore Breanna Stewart (Syracuse, N.Y.) paces the UConn offense with 17.8 points per game. Stewart leads the team with four 20-plus point games this season, falling just short of her fifth in a 19 point night against UC-Davis. The sophomore has earned more trips to the foul line (45) than any other Husky while simultaneously posting the highest success rate with a free throw percentage of 82.2.
So far, No. 2 Duke’s season has mirrored Connecticut’s in several regards. The Blue Devils have also raced to a 10-0 record that included triumphs over three ranked opponents in No. 9 California, No. 16 Purdue, and No. 17 Oklahoma with an average margin of victory of 14 points. Duke, like UConn, has firmly maintained its national ranking in all six polls.
The Blue Devils present a formidable offense also listing five players double-figure points per game averages. Senior guard Tricia Liston leads the team in scoring, averaging 18.3 points per game. The Illinois native has been lethal from long range, going 31-for-58 on 3-point field goal attempts for a 53.4 percentage. Liston leads a Duke team that ranks fourth in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (43.9 percent) and third in the country in field-goal percentage (51.5 percent). The Blue Devils Sophomore Alexis Jones ranks just behind Liston in scoring, averaging 14.6 points per game.
Compared directly with the Huskies’ numbers this season, Dukes averages just over 89.5 points per game to edge UConn’s 87.3 ppg. The Blue Devils, however, have committed 73 more turnovers than has Connecticut this season.