You wanted a big game, UConn menâ€™s basketball fans? You got it.
The Huskies, who have enjoyed four blowouts against lesser foes so far this season, have a big challenge in front of them Wednesday as the take on Auburn in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis at Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
Itâ€™s UConnâ€™s first game away from home, its first game against a ranked team, and its first game against a frontcourt of perhaps equal stature.
Auburnâ€™s front line features 6-foot-10 Jabari Smith, one of the nationâ€™s top freshmen, and perhaps top players. The No. 4 recruit in the Class of 2022, Smith is on the watch list for the Wooden Award and has already made quite a splash with the Tigers.
Auburn also has 7-foot-1 center Walker Kessler in its starting lineup.
It could make for a fun matchup with the likes of UConn big men Adama Sanogo, Isaiah Whaley, and Akok Akok.
UConn coach Dan Hurley has been relatively pleased with his teamâ€™s performance thus far, but there were aspects of the Huskiesâ€™ win over Binghamton Saturday that had him concerned heading into this weekâ€™s event.
For starters, the Huskiesâ€™ rebounding ability wasnâ€™t at its peak against the Bearcats.
â€śDefensive rebounds (Saturday) were an absolute adventure,â€ť Hurley said. â€śAnd if they were an adventure (Saturday), what are they going to be like Wednesday?â€ť
In addition, point guard R.J. Cole didnâ€™t have his best afternoon, with just four points on 2-for-9 shooting. Cole also had three assists and two turnovers.
â€śR.J.â€™s an all-Big East level performer. We need him to be that for this team. We need him to be better than that,â€ť Hurley said.
The UConn-Auburn game is the second half of an afternoon doubleheader, with Michigan State and Loyola-Chicago matching up in the opener. The two winners will play Thursday at noon in the semifinals, while the two losers will meet Thursday at 2:30 p.m. in the consolation round.
UConn has won its first four games by an average of 40.8 points.
Auburn (3-0) had two relatively easy games to start the season followed by a good challenge in Tampa, Florida against USF on Friday. Auburn came away with a hard-earned 58-52 victory.
UConn (4-0) moved up to No. 22 in the Associated Pressâ€™ rankings Monday.
A ho-hum win over Binghamt aside, Hurley believes the Huskies are ready for their first test.
â€śWeâ€™re ready for the big ones now,â€ť Hurley said.