No. 10 UConn vs Xavier: Time, TV and what you need to know

UConn's Nika Muhl during pregame introduction at Butler on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022.

UConn's Nika Muhl during pregame introduction at Butler on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022.

Chandler Hart / Contributed photo via Butler athletics

No. 10 UConn vs Xavier

When: Saturday, noon

Where: XL Center

Records: UConn (8-3, 3-0 Big East), Xavier (6-8, 1-4)


Radio: UConn Sports Network


Seniors take charge: Following UConn’s win over Creighton, Geno Auriemma told his upperclassmen it was time they start stepping up. He told Christyn Williams that he wanted to see her impact the game more than just by scoring. He told Evina Westbrook that he wanted her to become a spark off the bench.

Against Butler all three seniors finished in double figures. Williams had 19 points, seven rebounds and a career-high seven steals. Olivia Nelson-Ododa had a season-high 19 points, seven rebounds. And in her first game off the bench, Westbrook had 13 points and four assists for her best performance since Dec. 11 against UCLA.

“I just know that when you play a lot of basketball, when you’re a senior, I think the expectation that you have for yourself, and that your teammates have, is that you consistently play at a certain level,” Auriemma said.

“After the Creighton game I made a point to say to our three seniors, ‘There’s no easy way to say this. We need more from you guys. You need to perform better. That’s it. Whatever that means to you, you need to play better. That shouldn’t be taken as pressure or a challenge. That’s just a statement of fact.’ … I think hopefully they took it to heart, the three of them and hopefully this is the beginning of a beautiful thing.”

Lineup change: Auriemma debuted a new lineup at Butler, swapping out Westbrook for sophomore Nika Mühl. It was the first time in her UConn career that Westbrook did not start. Auriemma was pleased with with the offensive spark she provided off the bench. Starting the game with Mühl’s high energy allowed the team to immediately gain control of the pace.

“She’s going to bring tremendous energy, defensive intensity. She’s going to push the ball up the floor harder. So, there’s all the things that she did last year for us and you noticed it right away today,” Auriemma said of Mühl. “The other way was we weren’t really getting any offense off the bench so I think Evina can be somebody that brings offense off the bench and can jumpstart some things if it’s not going well. So, I think we fixed two things that I wanted to get better at by changing the lineup.”

Return of Aaliyah Edwards: It’s been a rough sophomore season for Edwards, who lost her starting spot seven games into the season. Twice she was held scoreless and twice she had four or more turnovers. The 6-foot-3 forward had no rebounds against Notre Dame and was averaging just 6.4 points per game compared to 9.9 during the first seven games last year.

The sophomore has looked to turn a corner the last two games since UConn’s resumption following the holiday break and its COVID-19 shutdown. Against Creighton on Sunday, Edwards finished with season-highs in points (12) and steals (3). At Butler, she played 27 minutes (her most since Dec. 3 and the second-most minutes she’s played all season) and again finished with 12 points along with a season-high seven rebounds.

“I asked Aaliyah the other day, I said, ‘Hey, all the things that make you a really good player, that made you the player that you were last year. You came back this year and you did none of those things. And that’s why you’ve struggled. So, what’s the best way to get back to playing really good basketball? Go back to doing those things that you did last year that made you the player that you were,’” Auriemma said. “By the NCAA Tournament (last year), she was on the All-Tournament team I think and this year we’ve seen very very little of that. The last couple games, it’s more like what I’m sure she wants to see and it’s definitely more what I want to see.

“Sometimes sophomore year is not easy. You see how hard she goes to the boards or how hard she runs the floor, how she can help us defensively. We miss it. We got so used to it last year and then we didn’t have it this year. We missed it. I told her, ‘You need to be playing a lot more minutes. I want to give you those minutes, but you’re gonna have to get back to your old self.”



Player Pos. PPG

Caroline Ducharme G. 9.3

Christyn Williams G. 14.2

Olivia Nelson-Ododa F. 9.4

Nika Muhl G. 1.8

Dorka Juhasz F. 6.4


Player Pos. PPG

Shaila Beeler G. 9.4

Ayanna Townsend F. 8.4

Kaelynn Satterfield G. 10.1

Mackayla Scarlett G. 7.8

Mikayla Hayes C. 6.0