Panthers, Huskies begin Big East betting season

By: Joe Freda | Sunday, December 26, 2010

The No. 4 Connecticut Huskies have started their season with a 10-0 record, cashing at 4-0 in the four ‘board’ games of that stretch.  Jim Calhoun’s crew puts its streak on the line in Monday’s road matchup against the No. 6 Pittsburgh Panthers, who are 3-5 ATS in the eight betting battles of their 12-1 SU mark.

Connecticut’s latest triumph came in Wednesday’s 81-52 win as a 12 ½-point favorite against the Harvard Crimson.  The Huskies held Harvard to 30 percent shooting from the floor of Hartford’s XL Center, putting the duel away early with a 48-21 halftime lead.

Huskies guard Kemba Walker put up a team-high 20 points, draining 2-of-4 from beyond the arc.  The junior added four assists, while failing to grab a steal for the first time in 10 games.

Kemba WalkerWalker’s mate Alex Oriakhi nearly logged a double-double, finishing with 10 points and a team-high nine boards.  The sophomore forward hit 3-of-8 from the field, while sinking 4-of-4 at the foul line.

The lopsided affair’s combined 133 points plunged ‘under’ the ‘total’ of 141 ½.  Connecticut hit 52.7 percent of its field buckets, while outrebounding the Crimson, 39-27.

Walker and Co. have not traveled since last month’s trio of games in Hawaii for the Maui Invitational, going 3-0 ATS with wins against Kentucky, Michigan State and Wichita State.

The Huskies went 5-4 ATS in their nine road games last season against Big East Conference foes, with the ‘over’ also going 5-4.

Pittsburgh enters conference play following Wednesday’s 61-46 home win against the American University Eagles.  The Panthers hit a lowly 13-of-25 free throws, while winning the rebounding battle with American, 37-22.

Panthers guard Brad Wanamaker notched a team-high 19 points, connecting on 6-of-9 shots from the field.  The senior leads his squad this year in assists (5.6 APG) and steals (1.8 SPG).

Pittsburgh’s Dante Taylor came off the bench to grab a team-high seven rebounds in 21 minutes of play.  The sophomore forward hit 4-of-5 from the field, improving to 70 percent shooting for the season.

The contest’s combined 107 points featured season-low scoring for Pitt, both logged and allowed.  Jamie Dixon’s troops went 4-for-13 beyond the arc, while giving up 5-of-17 from three-point land.

Pittsburgh is 1-3 ATS in its four ‘board’ home dates, with the ‘over’ collecting at 4-0.  Wanamaker and Co. have scored 87.2 PPG in that span.

The Panthers picked up a 67-57 win as six-point road dogs in last January’s meeting against Connecticut, the most recent duel between the rivals.  Pittsburgh was held to 39 percent field-goal shooting, while sinking 17-of-20 from the charity stripe.

Monday’s tip is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. (PT), with ESPN2 providing the national television coverage.

Pittsburgh will have seven days off before its next game, resuming action in next Tuesday’s road date against the Providence Friars.  Connecticut will be idle for three days, returning home to face the South Florida Bulls as part of Friday’s college hoops slate.

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