Rutgers streak of going against a big time player continues. And Tuesday night, they may be going up against the college basketball player of the year.
Here comes Kemba Walker.
More on UConn after the jump...
He's been the one thing Rutgers hasn't been able to stop this year: a dominant player.
Walker is followed up by Alex Oriakhi, another type of player Rutgers has trouble with. A big man, he averages 10.5 points, but more importantly 9.3 rebounds a game. He pulled in 21 against Texas. Oriakhi does have the tendency to fall asleep for games, and that's what's hurt UConn. When his head isn't in the game, the Huskies struggle.
The Huskies are pretty young otherwise. Roscoe Smith, Jeremy Lamb, and Shabazz Napier (the reigning Big East Player of the Week) are three of their most notable players. Sometimes they can impress (see Napier's current award), and sometimes confound (see Smith's full court heave with ten seconds still left on the clock in that Texas battle). They will help UConn the whole way.
So, what can the Scarlet Knights do?
As usual, control tempo. Rutgers just can't get into a running game with ANYONE in the Big East.
Try to keep the rebounding game within reason. It's doubtful the Knights will be able to outrebound UConn. The key will be to get the defensive rebound and finish a defensive possession when UConn misses. Don't give them two, three, or four chances on offense.
Limit Kemba. He's going to score. He'll likely score over twenty. But fluster him enough that he doesn't go off for 40. Keep him within the game. Hopefully James Beatty and Mike Coburn can really harass him.
Defend the rest of the team. Don't let a role player get hot. Front Oriakhi and try to get him into foul trouble.
Turn UConn over, but hold on to the ball. Rutgers has gotten into a habit of giving the ball up a lot early in games. This can't happen. At the same time, UConn averages about 12 turnovers a game. Try to force them into more than that.
Texas was an interesting game for UConn. It could be their best effort since Maui, or it could be a sign they're really starting to come together and are ready to go on a run. Either way, it's a tough match-up for Rutgers.