The top-ranked UConn Huskies kick off a new month of basketball with a tough test on the road against the St. John’s Red Storm on Saturday, February 3.
The Huskies enter this matchup riding a nine-game win streak, capped off by a 74-65 win over Providence earlier in the week. The team has displayed a balanced offensive approach over that stretch, boasting four players with double-digit scoring numbers.
UConn’s consistent play has vaulted the reigning champs into the No. 1 spot in this week’s AP Top-25 Poll.
Over in the Big Apple, things have not been as kind to Rick Pitino in his first year at St. John’s. The Red Storm have lost four of their last five matchups, bringing their record down to 5-5 in Big East play.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are winning basketball programs.
St. John’s entered this season with only two returning players on their roster. And in the Big East, finding success with a cast of former Iona Gaels, incoming transfers, and developing freshmen was always going to be a challenge.
These two programs have already gotten acquainted with each other this season. Back in December, the Huskies were able to hold onto a narrow 69-65 victory at home over the Red Storm.
Starting center Donovan Clingan was unavailable for the first matchup of the season after suffering a foot injury one game prior. Clingan remained sidelined for the majority of his team’s hot streak, before finally returning to the lineup on January 28.
Momentum is clearly in the Huskies’ corner heading into this weekend’s battle. However, winning on the road has been a tall order for AP top-10 ranked teams this season.
Historically when teams within the AP top-10 face unranked opponents on the road, the visitors win those matchups over 73 percent of the time.
This season, that number has fallen drastically to just 43 percent.
To add even more intrigue, both of UConn’s losses have come on the road this season, while St. John’s has maintained a strong 9-2 record in their own building.
As tip-off approaches, let’s take a look at the keys for UConn to preserve their No. 1 rank this weekend.