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Top-ranked UConn faces massive test against No. 4 Marquette

Marquette opener
Posted at 9:29 AM, Feb 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-13 10:29:14-05

Top-ranked Connecticut has looked like a legitimate contender to become the first team to repeat as national champions since Florida 17 years ago.

The Huskies have a dominating big man in Donovan Clingan, players who know what it takes to win big games and have passed nearly every test in front of them.

The next one may be UConn's biggest of the season: against No. 4 Marquette.

"These are pressure-packed games, so the best way to win them is to have no weaknesses on your team," UConn coach Danny Hurley said last week.

The Huskies (22-2, 12-1 Big East) haven't had many since winning their fifth national championship last April.

UConn has spent the past five weeks at No. 1 in the AP Top 25 and is on a 12-game winning streak heading into Saturday's game against the Golden Eagles.

Marquette (18-5, 9-3) also has been playing well lately, winning seven straight to move up three spots in this week's poll. The Golden Eagles also have one of the nation's best players in AP preseason All-American Tyler Kolek, who scored 22 of his 27 points in the second half as they rallied from a 15-point deficit to beat St. John's last week.

"This is one of Tyler Kolek's best games that he's ever played at Marquette," Golden Eagles coach Shaka Smart said.

They're going to need him to do it again in what could be one of the best games of the college basketball season.

RANKED SYACMORES

No. 23 Indiana State moved into the AP Top 25 on Monday for the first time since 1978-79, when Larry Bird led them into the national title game against Magic Johnson and Michigan State.

The free-flowing Sycamores are fifth nationally in scoring at 85.6 points per game, ninth in 3-point percentage (39%) and No. 1 in adjusted field goal percentage, according to KenPom.

Indiana State will hope to avoid going one-and-done in the poll with games against Illinois State on Tuesday and Southern Illinois on Saturday.

TIGERS AND WILDCATS

Kentucky managed to remain in the AP Top 25 this week despite setting an unwanted mark.

With two losses last week, the Wildcats have lost three straight at Rupp Arena for the first time it opened in 1976. The Wildcats hadn't lost three in a row at home since the 1966-67 season, when they played at Memorial Coliseum.

Kentucky one game at home this week, again Mississippi on Tuesday, then plays at No. 13 Auburn on Saturday.

The Tigers are coming off a 16-point loss at Florida after beating No 15 and rival Alabama. The Tigers face No. 11 South Carolina on Wednesday.

JUMBLED JAYHAWKS

Kansas started the season as the preseason No. 1 and has been in the top 10 all season.

The Jayhawks dropped two spots to No. 6 in this week's poll following an overtime loss to Kansas State last week, but rebounded to beat No. 12 Baylor.

Kansas was so discombobulated in a 79-50 loss to Texas Tech Monday night that coach Bill Self got ejected in the second half.

The Jayhawks have another tough test —- as most games are in the Big 12 — at No. 25 Oklahoma on Saturday. The Sooners moved back into the poll after dropping out last week.