Welcome to Hartford

By David Scott - November 19, 2006

HARTFORD - Welcome to the Hartford Civic Center for the final game of the three day, six-game, round-robin Hispanic College Fund Classic between host, UConn (No. 21, AP/No. 19, ESPN/USAT) and Ole Miss.

Fairfield and Central Arkansas are just finishing up their 5:30 contest, with the home-state Stags holding a 44-43 lead with under a minute left.

The Civic Center is still mostly empty, but the parking lots and streets around the arena are starting to fill up for the 8 p.m. tip-off (ESPNU with Joe Tessitore on play-by-play and Doug Gottlieb on color).

Both Ole Miss and UConn are undefeated entering the contest, having each beaten Central Arkansas and Fairfield this weekend (Ole Miss, 4-0, came to Hartford with two wins over Mississippi Valley State and Louisiana-Lafayette; UConn, 3-0, had beaten Quinnipiac).

. . . UConn and Ole Miss have never met, but first-year Rebel coach, Andy Kennedy has a passing familiarity with the Huskies. Last year, as the coach at Cincinnati, Kennedy lost 70-59 in a Big East showdown at the Civic Center.

As a player for Alabama-Birmingham, Kennedy hit 6 of 11 3-pointers on March 12, 1989 as UAB knocked UConn out of the quarterfinals of the NIT. Kennedy had 22 points in the 85-79 win.

. . . Ole Miss is off to its best start since 2000-01 when they began 11-0- Things don’t get any easier for rookie coach, Kennedy, as Ole Miss will face four of last year’s Elite Eight teams (UConn, Florida, Memphis and LSU)

. . . UConn is also no stranger for Ole Miss guard, Justin Cerasoli, who transferred to Oxford from Seton Hall (sitting out last season), where he averaged 6.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists as a freshman.

. . . Calhoun is 14th on the all-time D-I coaching wins list with 736 - he has the fourth most of active coaches, behind Bobby Knight, Lute Olson and Mike Krzykewski, but in front of Jim Boeheim.

. . .UConn is now 181-70 all time in Civic Center games. Friday night’s win over Central Arkansas was the Huskies 250th all-time game at the HCC. Jim Calhoun is 158-37 in the building.

Overall, at both Gampel Pavilion and the Civic Center, UConn has a 22-game home winning streak, the last loss coming to North Carolina on February 13, 2005 (HCC).

. . . UConn has more alums on active 2006-07 NBA rosters (to start the season) than any other school in the country with 14. Second is Duke (13), then North Carolina (12) and Arizona and UCLA (10 each).

. . . The Hispanic College Fund Classic is actually a three-part, cross country event. Earlier this week, Arizona State hosted Northern Arizona and CalState-San Bernardino; at the end of December, LSU will host Wright State, Mississippi Vallley and Samford.

The fund, according to UConn’s game notes, “is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to develop the next generation of Hispanic professionals.”

Posted by David Scott at 07:05 PM on November 19, 2006

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