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Pre-game preview: Memphis

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: theday.com

Published February 14. 2014 9:00PM   Updated February 14. 2014 10:07PM

With a win Saturday afternoon, UConn can match last year’s overall victory total.

The 24th-ranked Huskies can also improve their resume and move up the American Athletic Conference standings.

They play the four teams ahead of them in the standings -- Memphis, Cincinnati, Louisville and SMU -- in the final seven games of the regular season.

“Everybody is talking about that we’ve got to be great in January and February,” senior Niels Giffey said. “This is the time to show that we’re a mature team and a well-balanced team.”

Here’s a pre-game preview of today’s game against No. 20 Memphis at the XL Center inHartford:

Tip-off time: noon (ESPN)

Records: Memphis 19-5, 8-3, UConn 19-5, 7-4

Last game: Memphis beat Central Florida, 69-59, Wednesday; UConn defeated South Florida, 83-40, Wednesday

Probable starters:

UConn, 6-1 sr. guard Shabazz Napier (17.3 pts, 5.5 assists, 5.9 rebs), 6-0 jr. guard Ryan Boatright (12.0 pts, 3.5 assists), 6-6 grad. forward Lasan Kromah (7.5 pts, 3.0 rebs), 6-9 jr. forward DeAndre Daniels (13.5 pts, 5.6 rebs), 7-0 fr. center Amida Brimah (4.2 pts, 3.0 rebs, 2.7blks)

Memphis: 6-1 sr. guard Joe Jackson (14.6 pts, 4.5 assists), 6-3 sr. guard Geron Johnson (8.9 pts, 5.0 rebs), 6-4 sr. guard Chris Crawford (9.1 pts, 3.9 rebs), 6-8 fr. forward Austin Nichols (8.1 pts, 3.8 rebs), 6-9 so. forward Shaq Goodwin (12.5 pts, 6.7 rebs)

Noteworthy:

-- UConn has won 8 of its last 10 games. Memphis has captured nine of its last 11.

 -- The Huskies are 2-2 versus ranked foes this season.

 -- The Tigers are playing first ever game in state of Connecticut.

 -- Series: Tied at 1-1, with UConn winning first meeting this season 83-73 on the road on Jan. 16.

 -- In the first game, Daniels had 23 points and 11 rebounds in one of his best games this season.

“I just played hard and rebounded,” Daniels said. “When I was rebounding, I was finding ways to score. Also, my guards were able to find me and I was able to knock down shots.”

Coach Kevin Ollie expects Memphiswill come up with a different plan to defend Daniels.

“He’s a key every game,” Ollie said. “I know they’re probably going to devise something to stop him because he did a really good job against them. … I know coach (Josh) Pastner is a good coach and he’s going to come up with some adjustment against DeAndre. Now it’s up to us to counter those adjustments.”

 -- UConn limited sophomore forward Shaq Goodwin to just 10 points and two rebounds in the first meeting. Goodwin is the team’s second leading scorer and top rebounder.

“He really likes to hit you first, even on baseline out of bounds,” Ollie said of Goodwin. “We’ve seen that a couple of times on tape. He really wants to hit first and establish himself in the low post. We’ve got to do good job with him and keep him off the offensive rebounds.”

 -- Memphis senior Joe Jackson is one of the conference’s best players. He’s a contender for the AAC player of the year.

“He gets up and down the court and he’s got a great mid-range game,” Ollie said. “He’s finding his players, too. I think he’s averaging 4.5 assists. He’s just an excellent guard. … He’s just a special player.”

 -- In AAC action, the Tigers are first in assists per game (18) and second in scoring (76.9).

 -- Hot: UConn sophomore Phil Nolan is shooting 69 percent (20-for-29) in last 10 games. Cold: Opponents are converting just 35 percent in last five games.

 -- The Huskies are sixth in the country in free throw percentage (76.9).

 -- It is a homecoming forMemphisfreshman forward Kuran Iverson, a Northwest Catholic graduate fromHartford. He’s seen limited action in 17 games, averaging 2.6 points and 1.8 rebounds.

 -- The Tigers are 4-2 in true road games. The Huskies are 12-2 at home, losing to Stanford and Louisville.

 -- Napier needs 11 points to pass Cliff Robinson (1,664) and move into ninth on school’s all-time scoring list.

 -- Injury update: UConn sophomore Omar Calhoun continues to recover from a concussion. He went through a light workout during practice on Friday.

There’s a 60 percent chance that he’ll miss his second straight game today, according to Ollie.

Senior Tyler Olander, who sat out Wednesday’s win against South Florida with flu-like symptoms, will be ready to play today.

 -- Check out the attached video of Giffey talking about the match-up with Memphis, Germany’s performance in the Olympics, etc.

“I heard we’re killing it,” Giffey said of his country’s Olympic team.

 -- For updates during the game, follow me on Twitter @GavinKeefe

 -- Check back after the game for a post-game breakdown and video.

 

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