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Simply put, No. 25 North Carolina State was the better team on Tuesday night.
UConn put forth a strong effort before fading late, losing 69-65, in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Junior Shabazz Napier had a game-high 19 points and backcourt partner Ryan Boatright added 18 points.
Here's a post-game breakdown:
-- UConn won't win many games when its starting frontcourt duo of Tyler Olander and DeAndre Daniels makes an extremely limited contribution.
Olander had zero points – that's right, zero – and only three rebounds in 19 minutes. And he didn't even get in foul trouble.
Daniels had seven points and only one rebound in 21 minutes.
Coach Kevin Ollie expects both players to rebound with better efforts against Harvard on Friday.
"I told Tyler in trying times, you can't stop trying," Ollie said of his post-game advice. "He's going to do that."
-- On the positive side, junior center Enosch Wolf was a huge factor off the bench. He tied his career-high with 12 points and set a career-best with nine rebounds. He converted a variety of shots, from a baseline hook to a short jumper.
Wolf is UConn's most improved player.
"Whenever we are in a big game, he shows up big time…," Ollie said. "He did a wonderful job and he boxed out and he was aggressive, and we need that."
In his last game against an Atlantic Coast Conference foe, Wolf had 12 points and six rebounds in a 77-71 win over Wake Forest Nov. 16 in the Paradise Jam.
Wolf was in no mood to celebrate after Tuesday's performance.
"At the end of the day, it doesn't matter because we didn't win," Wolf said.
-- N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried made an adjustment in the second half, focusing on limiting dribble penetration by Napier and Boatright.
The adjustment worked, as UConn bogged down offensively.
"We eliminated some dribble penetration at key times, I thought, during the game," Gottfried said.
-- N.C. State junior C.J. Leslie, the ACC preseason player of the year, is tough to guard. Daniels and Niels Giffey made an attempt to contain him with limited succes.
Leslie finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds and four assists in 38 minutes.
-- Napier has made a habit of slow starts and fast finishes. He took the opposite approach on Tuesday.
He buried four 3-pointers on the way to scoring 15 points in the first half. But he had just four points after intermission.
"I feel like I was not as aggressive in the second half as the first half," Napier said. "We did not run our plays with the same intensity."
-- The Huskies did an admirably job on the boards against a bigger and stronger Wolfpack team. They held a 20-17 edge at halftime but got out-rebounded 20-13 in the second half.
UConn has been out-rebounded in all but one game this season.
-- UConn shot just 40.3 percent from the field and N.C.State converted 47.3 percent.
-- R.J. Evans of Salem returned to action after sitting out two games with an injury. He was very active in 19 minutes, finishing with four points, two steals, two rebounds, one assist and one blocks. But he missed several layups and went 2-for-8 overall.
-- Up next: UConn hosts Harvard on Friday night in Storrs. Harvard (4-3) beat Boston College, 79-63, Tuesday.
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.