Star watch: Napier vs. Kilpatrick

Tonight's American Athletic Conference showdown features two All-American candidates.

No. 22 UConn (17-4, 5-3) leans on senior Shabazz Napier.

No. 7 Cincinnati (21-2, 10-0) relies on senior Sean Kilpatrick.

Let's take a closer look at the two star players:

Napier ranks first in AAC games in scoring at 21.5 points per game while Kilpatrick is first in scoring in overall games at 19.4 points.

Both players are riding hot streaks, as Napier is averaging 25.5 points in the last four games and Kilpatrick 22.5 points in the last six games.

They are nearly automatic from the free throw line -- Napier sinks 86.6 percent and Kilpatrick converts 86.8 percent.

They also are deep threats, as Napier ranks sixth in the conference in 3-point shooting percentage at 43.5 percent and Kilpatrick is second in 3-pointers made at 2.6.

They both play the role of Mr. Big Shot.

Here's UConn coach Kevin Ollie on Kilpatrick: "Kilpatrick is their finisher for them. The USF game, he scored the last 10 points. I think the Louisvillegame he scored 12 of the last 14, or something like that. When it gets down when they need a bucket, he's going to get the ball. He's a great player."

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin on Napier: "Shabazz is one of the best players, if not the best guard, that we'll play against all year."

Kilpatrick needs just 109 points to become only the second player in the program's history to score 2,000 career points. He's third on the school's all-time scoring list.

Napier is climbing UConn's scoring charts, ranking 14th with 1,614 points. He needs 17 points to pass Jerome Dyson (2006-10). He's also fourth in career assists with 571. He's the only player in school history with 1,600 points and 550 assists.

Enjoy what should be a great game.

Game time is 7 p.m. at Fifth Third Arena inCincinnati. It will be televised by ESPN.

Junior DeAndre Daniels (high right ankle sprain) will not be in the lineup tonight after missing last Thursday's game against Houston.

UConn can make a huge statement by beating Cincinnati, which has won 14 straight and gone undefeated at home (15-0) this season.

"Cincinnati is playing at a high level," Ollie said. "They haven't lost in our conference. We want to go in there and hopefully give them their first loss."

The rematch is March 1 in Hartford.

Reader Comments

MORE BLOGS

Post-game breakdown: SMU

  The Huskies secured a signature victory that they so desperately needed.

Pre-game preview: SMU

  UConn has never beaten Southern Methodist University.

Hamilton announces his retirement

  Former UConn great Richard "Rip" Hamilton announced his retirement today.

Pre-game preview: East Carolina

  The regular season is winding down.  

Post-game breakdown: Tulane

  UConn took a difficult route to victory on Sunday.  So it was a typical win for the Huskies, who held off Tulane, 67-60, at Gampel Pavilion.

Pre-game preview: Tulane

  It's hard to believe the regular season is already winding down.

Boatright, Dunn finalists for Bob Cousy award

  UConn senior Ryan Boatright and Providence sophomore Kris Dunn are two of 17 finalists for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award in college basketball.

Post-game breakdown: Memphis

  Freshman Daniel Hamilton is a rising star.  The latest evidence came in UConn's 75-72 loss at Memphis on Thursday night.

Pre-game preview: Memphis

UConn and Memphis meet twice over the final few weeks of the regular season.

Post-game breakdown: Tulsa

 UConn played its most complete game this season on Thursday night. Its near perfect performance couldn’t have come at a better time.

Pre-game preview: Tulsa

UConn begins a make-or-break stretch tonight.The Huskies host Tulsa, the American Athletic Conference leader, at the XL Center.

Calhoun pays tribute to Dean Smith

 UConn released a statement late Sunday from Jim Calhoun on the passing of fellow Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith, the North Carolina legend.

Pre-game preview: Tulane

  Here’s a revealing statistic:  UConn is 7-1 when Rodney Purvis scores in double figures.

Post-game breakdown: East Carolina

  UConn played about 13 minutes of nearly perfect basketball on Wednesday night.

Pre-game preview: East Carolina

  UConn has never lost more than two games in a season at Gampel Pavilion since the building opened in 1989.  That streak is in jeopardy.