The UConn women’s basketball team continued to make history on Monday night as the program won its 100th consecutive game on with a 66-55 home win over No. 6 South Carolina.
Using an 11-2 run to end the third quarter, the No. 1 Huskies had a double-double from junior Gabby Williams (26 points and 14 rebounds) while sophomore Napheesa Collier (18 points, nine rebounds) also had a strong outing.
Monday’s win puts UConn at 25-0 on the season with the non-conference win. These two programs also met last season as the Huskies beat South Carolina on the road when the two teams were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the country.
South Carolina (21-3) was led by 17 points from junior forward A’ja Wilson while senior center Alaina Coates had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. The Gamecocks tried to use their size to pound the Huskies on the interior but UConn was up to the challenge and also did a great job of shutting down South Carolina’s perimeter shooting (28 percent three-point shooting).
The four-time defending national champions haven’t lost since since Nov. 17, 2014 when they fell to Stanford in overtime. That loss to Stanford snapped another 47-game winning streak that the Huskies had going.
This current 100-game winning streak is the second time the UConn women’s program passed the previous Division I win streak record — which was set with 88 wins by the UCLA men’s team under head coach John Wooden. Head coach Geno Auriemma previously guided the Huskies to a 90-game winning streak — which also started after a loss to Stanford in 2008 and ended with another loss to Stanford on Dec. 30, 2010.
During the current 100-game winning streak, the Huskies didn’t shy away from marquee opponents as they toppled an incredible 28 ranked opponents by over an average of over 20 points per game.
The 2016-17 Huskies have also been impressive because they had to replace Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck — the most successful class in NCAA history. Despite those roster losses, UConn has beaten nine ranked teams this season and looks like the favorite to capture its fifth consecutive national championship.
UConn has four games left in the regular season with a road game at South Florida being the only game against a ranked team. The Huskies will also have to get past the American conference tournament before the NCAA tournament.
If the Huskies enter the NCAA tournament unbeaten they’ll be attempting to win its 12th national title under Geno Auriemma and complete its seventh undefeated season.
Cincinnati finds new home for 2017-18 season while arena is renovated
Cincinnati will spend the 2017-18 season in a new arena as Fifth Third Arena will be undergoing renovations next season.
The Bearcats announced on Friday that they would play next season at BB&T Arena, which is Northern Kentucky’s home arena.
The 9,400 seat BB&T Arena is a good alternative for Cincinnati because it is a newer arena that was built in 2008 and it is only located seven miles away from downtown Cincinnati.
Fifth Third Arena is getting an $87 million renovation that begins in March and is scheduled to end in October 2018.
This is a solid move for both programs as it will be intriguing to see how two Division I teams share the same home arena for one season. My biggest question comes with the home floor. Is Cincinnati spending all season playing with Northern Kentucky logos on the hardwood?
Cincinnati had to find something during its arena overhaul so this is a natural solution that is still relatively close to campus.
Northern Kentucky is the big winner in this. BB&T Arena will get a lot of new fans coming there next season and that should only enhance the Northern Kentucky basketball brand in that area. Some Cincinnati fans could check out a game at that arena for the first time, realize how nice of a facility it is, and come back for a Northern Kentucky game or another event at the arena. That’s what Northern Kentucky gains from all of this.
Cincinnati’s larger national profile also means that a healthy amount of nationally-televised games should be coming from that arena as well, which gives it even more visibility.
VIDEO: Memphis center Chad Rykhoek taken off floor with leg injury
Memphis senior center Chad Rykhoek was a unique story this season. This was his final season of eligibility after four years at Baylor as the 6-foot-11 Rykhoek had never played in a college game because of multiple hip surgeries.
Rykhoek joined Memphis as a graduate transfer this season and is coming off of a career-high 12 points in a Tiger loss to Monmouth on Tuesday.
Now Rykhoek’s season might be finished as the senior went down with a left ankle injury and was taken off on a gurney in the Memphis game at Oklahoma on Saturday. It happened in the first half, and it looks like the big man either broke or dislocated the ankle (you can see a screen-grab of the injury at the bottom of this post):
It was bad enough the player’s mother joined him on the floor.
This is an awful injury for a player who worked so hard to return to the floor. Rykhoek was a solid member of the Memphis rotation this season, averaging 6.4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. After putting up his career high and then going through this, hopefully Rykhoek can recover and play again.
In a touching moment, players from both teams came over to see Rykhoek off:
Rhode Island had every reason to fold after the first half against No. 24 Cincinnati.
The No. 21 Rams got off to a sluggish start and things looked potentially ugly when starting guard Jarvis Garrett left the game on a stretcher after a nasty fall.
But Rhode Island rallied in the second half behind a balanced scoring attack to erase a 12-point deficit and win 76-71 on Saturday afternoon at the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off semifinals at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.
Garrett was scoreless when he was taken out of the game, but his fellow Rams starters picked up the slack. All four finished in double-figures as E.C. Matthews buried the dagger three-pointer with under a minute left and finished with 18 points. Jared Terrell and Hassan Martin both tallied 14 points while Kuran Iverson added 13 points and 12 rebounds.
The Rhode Island defense did a nice job of slowing down two key Cincinnati players as Troy Caupain (12 points, 4-for-14 shooting) and Gary Clark (four points, 1-for-5 shooting) both had off-nights.
Sophomore Jacob Evans and Junior Kyle Washington both had strong outings for the Bearcats. Washington, the N.C. State transfer, showed a versatile scoring package on his way to 23 points. Washington also added eight rebounds and was 2-for-3 from three-point range but didn’t get a lot of chances to create offense down the stretch.
When Cincinnati (2-1) was balanced offensively early in the game, they looked like a very strong team as Caupain was primarily involved. Washington looked tough to guard one-on-one and Evans (25 points) was also doing a lot of damage. Cincinnati could never find a consistent third scorer after Caupain’s start as their offense sputtered in the second half. Evans is going to be a consistent scorer and you hope that Washington is able to keep contributing like that, but Caupain and Clark need to step up more in the scoring column.
Rhode Island (4-0) moves on to face No. 1 Duke tomorrow in the championship game at Mohegan Sun. Even though the Blue Devils are battling plenty of injuries to rotation players, it should be a good test for the Rams against another top-flight opponent.
American Athletic Conference Preview: Cincinnati, UConn and SMU battle for the crown
Beginning in September and running up through November 11th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2016-2017 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.
Today, we are previewing the American Athletic Conference.
The American is going to look quite different this season as the league lost a few familiar coaches and some very talented players. Most of the teams we’ve grown familiar with atop the standings are back in the title picture for 2016-17 as teams like Cincinnati, UConn, SMU and Houston have NCAA tournament aspirations, while many others are in rebuilding mode or trying to be more stable.
FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW:
1. The league has four new coaches: After helping SMU become a legitimate program, Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown abruptly resigned in the middle of the July live evaluation period this summer, handing things over to former Illinois State coach and SMU associate head coach Tim Jankovich. While Jankovich was left with enough talent to make another run, Tubby Smith at Memphis, Johnny Dawkins at UCF and Mike Dunleavy at Tulane face rebuilding efforts. Smith has a habit of turning things around and should be able to help Memphis become nationally relevant again while Dawkins and first-time college coach Dunleavy have more to prove.
2. Cincinnati remains consistent: With six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, expectations are that Cincinnati makes it back this season. With senior Troy Caupain, junior Gary Clark and transfer Kyle Washington, the Bearcats have plenty of upperclass talent with experience. The question will be whether the Bearcats can make the second weekend of the tournament (or beyond) for the first time since 2012.
3. UConn is loaded with talent: Head coach Kevin Ollie lost quite a bit of firepower from last season, but he has plenty to be excited about. Senior guard Rodney Purvis has talented sophomore Jalen Adams and McDonald’s All-American Alterique Gilbert with him in the backcourt while Amida Brimah is back at center. The key for UConn’s season could be production at forward from players like VCU transfer Terry Larrier and freshman Vance Jackson.
4. Larry Brown didn’t lead the cupboard bare at SMU: Brown might have handed the keys to Tim Jankovich, but the Mustangs still have plenty of firepower. Double-figure scorers like Ben Moore, Shake Milton and Sterling Moore are all back while Duke transfer Semi Ojeleye and freshman center Harry Froling add more punch in the front court. The Mustangs have the talent to reach the tournament again and remain a consistent program for the future.
5. Houston has a chance to break through: While the league’s top three is Cincinnati, UConn and SMU, the Cougars also have a chance to make a NCAA tournament run if some newcomers can help. Junior guard Rob Gray and senior wing Damyean Dotson both return and sophomore guard Galen Robinson Jr. emerged as a starter last season. Junior college transfer and former Indiana forward Devin Davis might be the key to where the Cougars play after the season.
PRESEASON AMERICAN PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Dedric Lawson, Memphis
After a monster freshman season in which he averaged 15.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, Lawson entered the 2016 NBA Draft. The combine in May was an eye-opening experience for Lawson as it showed he needed a lot of work to be a pro. As a sophomore, Lawson has even less help than last season and he should be regularly putting up double-doubles.
THE REST OF THE AMERICAN FIRST TEAM:
Troy Caupain, Cincinnati: One of the best senior floor leaders in the country, Caupain comes to play in big games.
Rodney Purvis, UConn: Purvis is coming off of his most consistent year shooting last season (38 percent 3PT) and played really well in the NCAA tournament.
Damyean Dotson, Houston: Dotson shot 36 percent from three-point range and averaged 6.8 rebounds per game as one of the conference’s most versatile wings last season.
Gary Clark, Cincinnati: The reigning AAC Defensive Player of the Year will be a strong contender for Player of the Year if he improves his offensive production.
FIVE MORE NAMES TO KNOW:
Jalen Adams, UConn
Shake Milton, SMU
Rob Gray, Houston
Jahmal McMurray, South Florida
Ben Moore, SMU
BREAKOUT STAR: UConn has a lot of options to choose from in its backcourt, but the Huskies are hoping for a big season from sophomore Jalen Adams. The 6-foot-3 guard has the makings of a high-level scoring guard who could be a nightmare to contain off the dribble. If Adams improves his perimeter jumper he might be a major weapon this season.
COACH UNDER PRESSURE: Orlando Antigua hasn’t had the turnaround he expected at South Florida as he’s 17-48 in two seasons with only seven conference wins. The Bulls also lost four starters from last year’s team and top recruit Troy Baxter opted to decommit on the eve of the school year.
ON SELECTION SUNDAY WE’LL BE SAYING … : The American might not have a lot of NCAA tournament-caliber teams this season, but the ones in the field are the type of teams that nobody wants to face.
I’M MOST EXCITED ABOUT: Watching the UConn backcourt and the different combinations Kevin Ollie can use with all the talent he has. A perimeter duo of Jalen Adams and Alterique Gilbert would be a lot of fun to watch.
FIVE NON-CONFERENCE GAMES TO CIRCLE ON YOUR CALENDAR:
1. Cincinnati: The Bearcats have the league’s best returning duo in senior guard Troy Caupain and forward Gary Clark and N.C. State transfer Kyle Washington should help on the interior on both ends. Play from senior guard Kevin Johnson and sophomore Jacob Evans III could dictate whether this team can make the second weekend of the tournament.
2. UConn: This team is a bit of an unknown since so many new pieces will have to step up and contribute. If Jalen Adams or Alterique Gilbert play well and Terry Larrier adds frontcourt production, the Huskies will compete for the league crown.
3. SMU: Plenty of talent remains at SMU as this team has the wing talent to score and defend with the league’s best. If the frontcourt additions of Semi Ojeyele and Harry Froling come through, this team could be very tough.
4. Houston: Coming off of 22 wins and an NIT appearance, the Cougars have to replace guard Ronnie Johnson and productive forward Devonta Pollard. If Devin Davis and the other newcomers can help defend, Houston could be a surprise team.
5. Memphis: Dedric Lawson could be in for a big season and brother K.J. Lawson might see a jump in production as well. The Tigers need Coppin State grad transfer Christian Kessee needs to produce for an unproven backcourt.
6. Temple: The status of senior guard Josh Brown and his surgically-repaired Achilles could be the key for the Owls as they have some intriguing young talent. Freshmen Alani Moore, Quinton Rose and Damion Moore are talented.
7. UCF: Johnny Dawkins has a strong front court in A.J. Davis and 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall and the Knights get former all-rookie selection B.J. Taylor back from injury.
8. East Carolina: The trio of B.J. Tyson, Caleb White and Kentrell Barkley are talented enough to make this team rise up the standings. The key for the Pirates is consistency in conference play.
9. Tulsa: Coming off the NCAA tournament and 20 wins, Frank Haith has 10 new players on his roster. Rutgers transfer Junior Etou will be expected to help starting wing Pat Birt.
10. South Florida: The loss of four-star freshman Troy Baxter will hurt but sophomore Jahmal McMurray is an all-league candidate who can really score. Transfer Geno Thorpe (Penn State) and Troy Holston Jr. should help.
11. Tulane: New coach Mike Dunleavy has some talent in the form of Malik Morgan and Melvin Frazier but this team needs a lot more talent to compete with the league’s best.
UConn landed a commitment from a Class of 2017 big man on Wednesday night as three-star forward Josh Carlton pledged to the Huskies.
The 6-foot-9 Carlton hails from powerhouse DeMatha Catholic and took an official visit to see the UConn campus in late August. Carlton also visited Georgetown during the recruiting process.
Carlton joins four-star point guard Makai Ashton-Langford in UConn’s Class of 2017 recruiting efforts. UConn is still going after five-star shooting guard Hamidou Diallo as a main target as they could take two or three more players in this class to fill it out.