Georgetown puts its nine-game winning streak on the line Wednesday at Gampel Pavilion. UConn seeks its 20th win — an accomplishment few thought was possible at season’s start — and a third “signature” victory for Kevin Ollie, who has already coached the Huskies to upsets of Michigan State and Syracuse.
Here’s what you should look for Wednesday:
*The Break: It’s a battle UConn must win. In a purely halfcourt game, the Huskies are toast. Georgetown is too long, too active on defense. If the Hoyas are successful in limiting Shabazz Napier’s open looks (and you’d imagine they’ll try), UConn could have worlds of trouble scoring in the halfcourt. During Georgetown’s nine-game winning streak, only two opponents — DePaul and Rutgers — have reached 60 points.
*DeAndre Daniels: You never know what you’re getting with Daniels. He’s been enormous at times — his performance versus Providence kept the Huskies alive before Napier took over in OT — and damn near invisible at others. UConn needs him on both ends tonight. He’ll likely defend Otto Porter Jr. and, above all, he’ll be counted on to rebound. No boards = no transition points. And no transition points is a problem for the Huskies.
*Frontcourt rotation: With Enosch Wolf indefinitely suspended, Ollie has been forced to get creative with his rotations. Tyler Olander, the biggest body left, has still received solid minutes (26.6 per game) since Wolf’s suspension. He hasn’t been very productive, though, and has been outperformed on the boards by Daniels and small forward Niels Giffey. If Olander gives Ollie little production against Georgetown, it will be interesting to track how long he sticks with the 6-foot-9 junior before opting for a frontcourt of Giffey and Daniels (the only drawback: Olander’s size makes him a better post defender than Giffey).
*Big guards: Wednesday’s game certainly isn’t the first (or the last) in which Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright will face a much longer backcourt. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera is 6-foot-3, 227 pounds and sophomore guard Jabril Trawick stands 6-foot-5. The Huskies need crisp ball movement and consistent dribble penetration to free Napier and Boatright from the Hoya defenders.
*The Gampel Advantage: I’d be remiss not mention Gampel Pavilion, a superior setting to the XL Center for such a big game. Home court advantage is real, and the intense crowd noise (expect a sellout) could play a major role in Wednesday’s outcome.