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UConn men's notes: Spencer familiar with Northwestern, UConn's next NCAA opponent

Mar. 22—NEW YORK — UConn has a short 48 hours to prepare for its NCAA tournament second round opponent.

Graduate guard Cam Spencer could help out with the scouting report on Northwestern (22-11).

Spencer played last season at Rutgers, which also resides in the Big Ten, before transferring to UConn.

"A couple of games last year that we played them, so I'm a little more familiar than the other guys are with them," Spencer said. "The coaches will put us in a position to be successful."

Top-seeded UConn and No. 9 Northwestern will be meeting for the first time in Sunday's second round game.

Northwestern beat No. 8 Florida Atlantic, 77-65, in overtime in Friday's first game at the Barclays Center. Then top-seeded UConn drilled No. 16 Stetson, 91-52. Spencer had 15 points, five rebounds and three assists in his March Madness debut.

Graduate guards Boo Buie and Ryan Langborg led the Wildcats with 27 and 22 points, respectively.

Spencer's older brother Pat played one season (2019-20) at Northwestern. Pat was teammates with Buie, who is averaging a team-best 19.2 points this season.

"He's a good player," Spencer said. "A veteran guy. He's produced his whole career. My older brother played a year with him, so I'm familiar with him that way."

Northwestern is making only its third NCAA tournament appearance. The Wildcats advanced to the second round for the second straight year.

"I want to enjoy this game before I start talking about that juggernaut," said Northwestern coach Chris Collins when asked about UConn. "It means a lot to our program. When I came to Northwestern 11 years ago, we were one of the only Power Six schools that had never been in the NCAA tournament. For us, that's what everybody wanted."

Rebounding a focus

Despite the lopsided win, UConn didn't play a perfect game on Friday.

The Huskies owned a 45-30 rebounding edge, but weren't happy with their board work.

"Going into Sunday playing a Big Ten team that rebounds the ball well, me and everyone else just got to really attack the ball with two hands on the defensive end and to be able to push in transition', said UConn center Donovan Clingan.

Entering Friday's action, Northwestern had been out-rebounded this season by 2.1 boards per game.

Quotable

UConn coach Dan Hurley on feeling the NCAA tournament pressure entering Friday's first round game:

"Overall there's so much pressure. We all felt a lot of pressure going into this game. It's hard not to, as great as you feel about your team, because you just don't want to be that 1-seed (to lose), especially with the year that we've had since this time last year."

UConn is 32-3 overall, losing only one game since Dec. 20.

News and notes

In the last two games, Clingan is averaging 21 points, 12 rebounds and a block. ... UConn limited Stetson leading scorer Jalen Blackmon to 14 points on 4 for 17 from the field. Credit freshman Stephon Castle for his dogged defense. ... UConn is the third team in the last 20 years to lead by as many as 30 points at intermission. Gonzaga (2019 vs. FDU) and Memphis (2008 vs. Michigan State are the others. The Huskies led 52-19 at halftime. ... Since seeding began in 1979, UConn is 20-4 in first round games. Hurley evened his opening tournament game record at 2-2. ... The Huskies became the fifth team to win seven straight NCAA tournament games by double digits, two shy of the record set by Michigan State in 2000 and 2001.

g.keefe@theday.com