Oklahoma State (3-0) vs Connecticut (1-2)
When: Monday, November 21st 2016
Where: Lahaina Civic Center, Lahaina, HI
Time: 9:00 ET | TV: ESPNU
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The up-tempo pace of the Oklahoma State Cowboys will go up against the Connecticut Huskies, who like to slow things down, in the opening round of the Maui Invitational. The winner will most likely get North Carolina on Tuesday with the Tar Heels getting host Chaminade on Monday. UCONN has struggled out of the gate with a young squad, losing to Wagner and Northeastern before pulling out a 65-62 win at Loyola Marymount on Thursday. Connecticut is shooting an abysmal 39.1% from the floor which ranks 311th out of 351 Division 1 teams. The Huskies will be without third-leading scorer Alterique Gilbert, who dislocated his left shoulder in Thursday’s win over Loyola Marymount. Sophomore Terry Larrier is averaging 16.7 points to lead the Huskies, while senior center Amida Brimah averages 7.3 rebounds and 4.3 blocks. The backcourt includes sophomore Jalen Adams and freshman Christian Vital, who is expected to play after scoring nine points while battling back spasms in Thursday’s victory.
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Oklahoma State has gone over the 100-point mark in each of its first three games for the second time in school history as they start the year 3-0. Oklahoma State has rocketed out of the starting gates under new coach Brad Underwood, averaging 107 points in wins over Campbell, Central Arkansas and New Orleans while shooting 52.2% from the field. Six different players scored in double digits in Wednesday’s 117-72 victory over New Orleans, including junior Jeffrey Carroll, who is averaging 18.7 points and eight rebounds as the first player off the bench. They also have one of the best backcourts in the country in senior Phil Forte and sophomore point guard Jawun Evans, who is averaging 23.3 points and 6.3 assists along with three steals. After struggling in the first two games, senior forward Leyton Hammonds recorded his second career double-double with 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds against New Orleans. Freshman center Lucas N’Guessan, a 7-footer from the Netherlands, came off the bench to post 11 points and six rebounds against the Privateers.
I really don’t see how UCONN can keep up with the Cowboys in this one. Not only are they young, their battling injuries. I think Oklahoma State rolls in this one.
Pick: Oklahoma State -2.5