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For the second time this season, UConn plays a ranked opponent tonight.
Win or lose, we should learn a lot more about the Huskies (6-1) from playing No. 25 North Carolina State (4-2) in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York.
North Carolina State was picked to win the Atlantic Coast Conference for the first time since the 1974-75 season.
It is the second game of the doubleheader, with Georgetown and Texas playing the opener.
Here's a pre-game preview:
6-1 jr. guard Shabazz Napier (18.6 pts)
6-0 so. guard Ryan Boatright (13.7 pts, 4.9 assists)
6-5 fr. guard Omar Calhoun (10.9, 4.0 rebs)
6-8 so. forward DeAndre Daniels (8.3 pts, 5.0 rebs)
6-9 jr. forward Tyler Olander (5.4 pts, 4.7 rebs)
6-5 jr. guard Lorenzo Brown (10.5 pts, 6.0 assists)
6-3 fr. guard Rodney Purvis (10.0 pts)
6-6 sr. forward Scott Wood (10.5 pts, 3.0 rebs)
6-8 sr. forward Richard Howell (14.1 pts, 7.8 rebs)
6-9 jr. forward C.J. Leslie (11.7 pts, 7.5 rebs)
-- UConn is 1-0 vs. ranked teams this season, beating No. 14 Michigan State, 66-62, on Nov. 9.
-- Series history: Tied 2-2. Last meeting Wolfpack won 65-62 in 2005 NCAA tournament second round in Worcester.
-- Six players average in double figures for balanced N.C. State.
-- Top reserve: Leading scorer T.J. Warren (15.3 pts), a 6-8 fr. forward. Warren has come off the bench in five of the first six games.
-- Wood leads active ACC players in 3-pointers made with 245.
-- Stat to watch: Points in the paint. N.C. State has out-scored foes, 254-179, in the lane this season.
-- Salem's R.J Evans (sprain in right collarbone area) will play tonight after sitting out two games. He practiced full contact on Monday for the first time since suffering the injury on Thanksgiving. Not sure how effective he will be, but his leadership alone should help.
The best guess is that Evans, UConn's top reserve and sparkplug, will see limited action.
-- North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried on playing UConn:
"We've got a great challenge, obviously…," Gottfried said. "That's going to be a great opportunity for us again, to play on an national stage, Madison Square Garden, against a great program like UConn. I think our guys will be excited."
Gottfried on UConn's talent:
"Napier and Boatright, the guards, are very talented. DeAndre Daniels is somebody that we looked at and we really like. He's a very talented guy as well. …. When you watch them, they're a very talented team."
Gottfried on UConn's play since beating Michigan State in the opener:
"After that (game), they've been trying to figure some things out. Different guys are playing different minutes in some games. Defensively, they're doing some different things. Like a lot of us, (coach Kevin Ollie) is probably trying to figure out exactly how they should play and who should play, those type of things."
-- UConn junior Shabazz Napier on playing on the big stage:
"We want to go out there and show everybody that we've got great talent on the team. This is a great opportunity to go out there and play and do well. Hopefully, we come out victorious."
-- UConn junior Tyler Olander on the importance of the game:
"We showed that we can compete with Michigan State and then we kind of fell off. So just to play in the Garden against a very good N.C. State team and play well and come out with a win, would be huge to us."
-- Former N.C. State coach Jim Valvano, who founded The V Foundation to raise money for cancer research before dying of the disease, spent two seasons as an assistant on Dee Rowe's staff at UConn, leaving in 1972.
Rowe formed a close friendship with Valvano.
"I used to speak at dinners honoring Jim, and all these people would get up and say what a great coach he was," joked Rowe. "And I would say, 'He isn't that great. Those were two of the worst years I ever had in coaching.' He was great at keeping me from jumping in the Connecticut River."
-- UConn coach Kevin Ollie, who considers Madison Square Garden a magical place, on what it means to coach in the Jimmy V Classic:
"To have an opportunity to coach there and to coach at an event like Jimmy V, a person that has done so much and left a legacy that lives way past his life, is an awesome feeling for me.
"… I just knew him through coach Rowe. He was great friends with coach Rowe and he just tells me different things that made a difference in his life and just the wonderful people that he touched.
"Just to be around all his family members a month ago in New York was a great thing. I understand who he really was and what he really has done. His legacy lives a long time."
Today’s American Athletic Conference Championship semifinal doubleheader is underway here at the XL Center in Hartford. A crowd in the 12,000-13,000 range is expected for the UConn-Tulsa game. Tip-off time is 5 p.m.