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Pre-game preview: Maine

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: theday.com

Published December 06. 2013 2:00PM   Updated December 06. 2013 2:44PM

No. 12 UConn will attempt to complete the pre-exam break portion of its schedule undefeated tonight.

Maine visits the XL Center in Hartford for a 7 p.m. non-conference game.

Here's your pre-game preview:

Records: Maine 1-6, UConn 8-0

Last game: Maine lost to New Jersey Institute of Technology, 81-72, Wednesday; UConn beat No. 15 Florida, 65-64, Monday

Probable starters:

UConn, 6-0 jr. guard Ryan Boatright (11.7, 4.4 rebs), 6-1 sr. guard Shabazz Napier (16.4 pts, 5.6 assists, 7.3 rebs), 6-5 so. guard Omar Calhoun (8.5 pts), 6-8 jr. forward DeAndre Daniels (13.5 pts, 4.6 rebs), 6-10 so. center Phil Nolan (3.0 pts, 2.1 rebs)

Maine, 6-3 jr. guard Xavier Pollard (15.8 pts, 5.0 rebs, 3.5 assists), 6-4 so. guard Dimitry Akanda-Coronel (16.1 pts, 3.3 rebs), 6-4 jr. guard Zarko Valjarevic (13.7 pts), 6-6 fr. forward Garet Beal (7.8 pts, 3.7 rebs), 6-9 so. forward Stefan Micovic (1.4 pts, 2.4 rebs)

Noteworthy:

-- UConn's last game before a 12-day exam break.

-- The Huskies have won 48 straight non-conference home games.

-- Maine coach Ted Woodard was on Jim Calhoun’s staff from 1986-89. The Huskies are 17-0 against Calhoun’s former assistants.

"Great man," coach Kevin Ollie said. "I spent a lot of time with him recruiting when I was an assistant coach. I know coach (Calhoun) is very fond of him. …  He’s going to be coaching our opponent but he’s still part of the family. ... Hopefully, he can turn it around. After Friday, though."

--Series: UConn leads 82-16, winning 11 straight including the last meeting, 80-60, in 2011. The last loss was in 1978.

-- Maine's top reserve: 6-5 so. guard Shaun Lawton (11.5 pts, 3.5 rebs).

-- Hot: Daniels is averaging 17.5 pts and 7.5 rebounds in last two games.

Cold: Calhoun is averaging 4.6 points in last five games after averaging 15 in first three.

-- UConn is converting 48.5 from the field and 44.9 from 3-point range.

"This team is outstanding shooting the ball and hopefully we can keep that up," Ollie said.

-- Ollie is optimistic that UConn's young big men will eventually make a bigger offensive contribution. Nolan (3.0 pts) and reserve freshman Amida Brimah (3.3) both possess limited low post skills.

"We can get in the weight room more and do all those different things...," Ollie said. "I think it’s going to pay-off and we’re going to see some bigs really step up hopefully in the next couple of games."

-- Tonight could be a good opportunity for both little-used freshmen Terrence Samuel and Kentan Facey to see more playing time. Samuel has played just 35 minutes overall and Facey 27 minutes through eight games.

"It’s a difficult stitation," Ollie said. "Can’t play everybody right now. ... They’re playing. They’re using practices as their games. When we need them, they’ll be right there.

"We need everybody to be alive and ready to go. Those guys are developing very, very well. I’m very pleased with their attitudes. With the guys not playing a lot, they’re still buying in, which is a great attitude going forward. ... They’re doing a great job. They’ll get their chance, trust me."

-- As of Tuesday, UConn was ranked third in the RPI.

-- Napier needs four assists to become fourth Husky with 1,000 points and 500 assists in career, joining Taliek Brown, Doron Sheffer and Tate George.

-- Up next: UConn hosts Stanford Dec. 18 in Hartford.

 

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