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Star watch: Napier vs. Kilpatrick

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: theday.com

Published February 06. 2014 3:00PM   Updated February 06. 2014 10:46PM

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.

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