Alabama basketball advanced to the semifinals of the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Oregon, where it will face the 20th-ranked UCONN Huskies. It will be the second straight opponent for Alabama, who defeated another college basketball brand name in Michigan State last night.
UCONN will be a tough test for the Crimson Tide. The Huskies are 6-0 and have not won a game by less than 20 points this season. They easily defeated the Oregon Ducks in the opening round of the PKI. Oregon was the first high major opponent of the year for UCONN but didn’t present much of a challenge, losing 83-59.
Alabama Basketball: UCONN staff can cause problems
Junior big Adama Sanogo leads the Huskies averaging 19.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. The three-year starter shoots 68 percent from the field and has added a new weapon to his offensive arsenal. Sanogo has made six of nine three-point attempts this season, having previously only had one career attempt from beyond the arc. He’s a force in paint and on glass and a very good shot blocker.
ECU transfer Tristen Newton was a great backcourt player for the Huskies. Newton is averaging 13.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game while shooting just under 40 percent from the three-point line. He scored over 1,000 points in three seasons as the East Carolina Pirate and had no problem executing on that achievement.
Earlier this season, he hit a triple-double in a win over Buffalo. In the loss of Nate Oats’ previous team, Newton scored 22 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, had 11 assists and recorded four steals. More recently, he had 23 points, hit five of six three-pointers and shared six assists against Oregon.
Second winger Jordan Hawkins suffered a head injury earlier this season but is back in the line-up and was one of UCONN’s top scorers. The volume shooter gets an average of 12.3 points per game. Redshirt newcomer Alex Karaban is another good shot. The 6’8-inch forward was stable, hitting double digits in five of six games and averaging 10.2 points per game.
Freshman center Donavan Clingan has also had a major impact on huskies. The 7’2-inch giant comes off the bench to spell Sanogo and has dominated the color at times. Clingan averages 9.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.
Joey Calcaterra, transfer from San Diego, has been a consistent presence in the UCONN backcourt. The fifth grader shoots 57 percent of three and averages 9.0 points per game. Virginia Tech transfer Naheim Alleyne has also added Dan Hurley’s backcourt. Alleyne is a brave and physical Veteran Guard who started 90 career games at the high major level.
UCONN boasts two high-profile postal players in Adama Sanogo and Donavan Clingan and has blown the lights out from the three-point line this season. The Huskies have hit at least 10 threes in four of six games so far and shot at least 43 percent in all four competitions. They hit 17 trees with a 46 percent clip in their run across Oregon. Alabama must run the Huskies off the three-point line in this matchup.
Alabama basketball will likely again have the best player on the court in Brandon Miller and surround him with a capable supporting cast. Jahvon Quinerly is also gradually returning to his form, looking more like himself in every game. A win would see Bama Hoops rise to the PKI championship game.