The end of finals week is typically a cause for celebration. This is especially true for Jim Calhoun’s Connecticut team.
Ater Majok will make his long-awaited debut for the 14th-ranked Huskies on Sunday when they host Central Florida at the XL Center.
Connecticut (6-2) has gotten off to a solid start, losing only to then-No. 7 Duke 68-59 in the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 27 and to then-No. 4 Kentucky 64-61 on Dec. 9 at the same arena in the SEC/Big East Invitational.
Now, the Huskies are about to get a big lift.
The 6-foot-10, 233-pound Majok, a transfer from the American International School in Sydney, Australia, is expected to be in the starting lineup for the Huskies, who haven’t played since losing to the Wildcats.
Majok committed to UConn in May 2008 and has been practicing with the team since January. He had to wait for the end of the fall semester to play, and with the conclusion of finals, the 22-year-old freshman will take the court for the first time for the Huskies, who have won 23 straight in return to competition following exams.
Majok, who was born in Sudan and moved to Australia at age 13, averaged 28 points, 11 rebounds, seven blocks and four assists at American International.
“At 6-11 with a 7-foot-7 reach, he’s going to make a major splash in our league,” Calhoun said.
Although it could take time for Majok to get into rhythm, he will join an already strong lineup led by Jerome Dyson, Kemba Walker and Stanley Robinson.
Dyson is averaging a team-best 19.8 points, while Walker is posting 15.0 and Robinson is scoring 14.8 per game.
Dyson had a team-high 23 points in UConn’s last game against the Knights, an 85-82 road win Dec. 28, 2007. The Huskies have won 66 of 68 against non-conference opponents in Connecticut.
UCF (7-3) has lost 10 straight against Top 25 teams since an 82-64 win over then-No. 25 Charleston on Dec. 12, 2002, and coach Kirk Speraw realizes it won’t be easy to upset the Huskies.
“You have got to rise to the occasion and rise to the challenges,” Speraw told the school’s official Web site. “UConn has three of the best perimeter players in the country. They have a Hall of Fame coach, and are one of the best programs in the country. I know that our guys are excited to go up there and compete against a top team.”
This will be the Knights’ third game of the season against a Big East team. They lost 90-72 at Notre Dame on Dec. 6 and fell 69-65 to South Florida on Wednesday.
Isaac Sosa had 14 points against the Bulls, while freshman guard Marcus Jordan—son of former NBA great Michael Jordan—added a season-high 11.
UCF, averaging 69.7 points, could have trouble against a stout UConn defense that is allowing an average of 65.2 points on 34.7 percent shooting in its last six games.