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Pre-game preview, video: Stanford

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: theday.com

Published 12/18/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 12/18/2013 11:10 AM

No. 10 UConn (9-0) puts its undefeated record on the line tonight when it hosts Stanford (7-2) at the XL Center in Hartford.

It's a late tip-off time (9 p.m.).

Here's a pre-game preview of tonight non-conference game:

Probable starters

UConn: 6-0 jr. guard Ryan Boatright (12.0, 4.0 rebs, 4.2 assists), 6-1 sr. guard Shabazz Napier (15.3 pts, 5.9 assists, 7.0 rebs), 6-5 so. guard Omar Calhoun (9.3 pts), 6-8 jr. forward DeAndre Daniels (13.8 pts, 4.7 rebs), 6-10 so. center Phil Nolan (3.1 pts, 2.2 rebs)

Stanford: 6-2 jr. guard Chasson Randle (18.2 pts), 6-7 redshirt sr. guard Anthony Brown (16.3 pts, 6.2 rebs), 6-7 sr. forward Josh Huestis (11.8 pts, 7.7 rebs), 6-10 sr. forward Dwight Powell (15.1 pts, 7.3 rebs), 6-11 redshirt jr. center Stefan Nastic (7.6 pts, 2.3 rebs)

Noteworthy

-- Check out the attached video of coach Kevin Ollie's post-practice remarks on Tuesday.

-- The Huskies are coming off a 12-day exam break.

Ollie has been pleased with his team's progress on and off the court during the break.

"Hopefully, guys got good grades," Ollie said. "I'm getting some good returns on that. They did a good job on the break and hopefully they continue through the spring.

"But then we were able to get in the gym a little bit and get them working and keep their strength and conditioning up. … We played a little bit and got them up and down. I thought it was productive."

-- Series: UConn leads 4-0, winning last meeting 85-74 in the 2003 NCAA tournament West regional in Spokane, Wash. Stanford is making its second trip to UConn, losing 76-56, at Gampel Pavilion in 1998.

-- Stanford relies on balanced, efficient attack but lacks depth, especially in the backcourt. Four starters average in double figures. The Cardinal's top reserve, 6-10 senior center John Gage, averages just 3.3 points and 1.9 rebounds.

Senior Dwight Powell, a mobile 6-foot-10 forward, is the team's best all-around player, averaging 15.1 points and 7.3 rebounds. He also leads the team in assists with 37.

"You don't face too many guys like that," Ollie said. "He's just a good player. He's got a good skills set. … We're going to have to be alert to him and not let him affect the game in so many different ways."

-- Stanford's losses came against BYU (112-103) and Pittsburgh(88-67). The Cardinal allows 71.8 points per game and scores 81.9 points.

-- Expect the Cardinal to play a good deal of zone. That's fine with UConn, which has shot the ball well against both man and zone defenses this season.

"We're prepared for zone and we're prepared for man-to-man…," Ollie said. "We can run our man-to-man stuff against their zone."

-- UConn will slightly alter its routine to adjust to the late starting time. The Huskies plan on holding their game day shoot-around a little earlier and allow players time to get off their feet a bit more, according to Ollie.

"Being a junior, I've played all kinds of times," Ryan Boatright said. "In Germany, we played at midnight (against Michigan State last season). It really doesn't matter to me. You've got to be ready and prepare your body to play at 9 o'clock."

-- Streaks: UConn is 17-2 all-time vs. PAC-12, winning 13 straight. The Huskies have won 54 straight home games against non-conference foes.

-- Hot: UConn is first in the American Athletic Conference in free throw percentage (72.2), 3-point percentage (46.5), blocks per game (6.7) and 3-pointers made (8.9).

Cold: UConn ranks last in offensive rebounds per game at 6.7.

-- Calhoun sprained his ankle in Tuesday's practice but is expected to play.

-- Stanford assistant coach Tim O'Toole was Fairfield's head coach from 1998-2006.

-- Ollie on UConn's plan vs. Stanford: "We're just going to have to play solid defense and hopefully be efficient on the offensive end, get our shots, protect the basketball and also protect our house."

-- Boatright and Stanford guard Chasson Randle shared the Mr. Basketball of Illinois award in 2011. Boatright went to East Aurora High School and Randle attended Rock Island, but they never played against each other.

"Chasson really makes the team go," Boatright said. "He's their engine. He likes to get out in transition and get his buckets early and get the team going so that's my job to stop him and slow down their tempo."

-- Redshirt freshman Rodney Purvis had successful surgery on his left shoulder on Tuesday morning at the UConn Health Center in Farmington. His recovery period will take about four to five months.

Purvis has been dealing with the injury since before he transferred to UConn from North Carolina State. He's sitting out this season and had been practicing with the Huskies.

"It's a good time for him to do it," Ollie said. "Of course, we'd like him full strength, healthy, and he could perform out here and continue to get the plays. But if we had to do it, this would probably be the best time.

"At least it didn't happen later on in the season where it would be prolonged in the off-season. … Hopefully he can get back for our spring session and start working out with the coaches in the summertime."

-- Up next: UConn leaves for Washington Thursday morning, playing the West Coast Huskies on Sunday afternoon. It will be the Huskies' first true road game this season and second straight game against a Pac-12 program.

-- For updates during tonight's game, follow me on Twitter @GavinKeefe

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