Pre-game preview, video: Florida
UConn will have only a handful of opportunities to play ranked teams this season.
As of Monday's Associated Press top 25 poll, three opponents fall into that category – No. 7 Louisville, No. 15 Florida and No. 16 Memphis. The Huskies will play both Louisville and Memphis twice in American Athletic Conference action.
Florida visits Gampel Pavilion on Monday night.
It is No. 12 UConn's first game against a ranked foe this season. The Huskies are 7-0.
Here's a pre-game preview of Monday night's game against the Gators (6-1):
-- Check out the video of Ryan Boatright talking about the match-up.
-- Last game: Florida defeated Florida St., 67-66, Friday; UConn beat Loyola (Md.), 76-66, Tuesday
UConn, 6-0 jr. guard Ryan Boatright (11.7 pts, 4.6 rebs), 6-1 sr. guard Shabazz Napier (15 pts, 7.7 rebs), 6-5 so. guard Omar Calhoun (9.4 pts), 6-8 jr. forward DeAndre Daniels (13.4 pts, 4.3 rebs), 6-10 so. center Phil Nolan (3.1 pts, 2.3 rebs)
Florida, 6-2 sr. guard Scottie, Wilbekin (9.5 pts, 7.5 assists), 6-4 so. Michael Frazier II (14.4 pts), 6-6 sr. forward Casey Prather (19.1 pts, 5.7 rebs), 6-8 sr. Will Yeguete (5.4 pts, 5.1 rebs), 6-9 sr. Patric Young (9.3 pts, 5.0 rebs)
-- UConn lost only other meeting in the series in painful fashion, falling 69-60 in overtime in a 1994 NCAA Sweet Sixteen game in Miami. Donyell Marshall missed two free throws with three seconds left in regulation. Kevin Ollie had six points and eight assists in that game.
Florida took charge in overtime.
"They played well," Ollie said. "They had the crowd behind them. They had the momentum. … We thought Donyell would make one of the free throws. He didn't make it, and they took it to us.
"… It wasn't Donyell's fault. We had many plays before that, that didn't have to end up in his hands."
Ollie added that he has a good relationship with Marshall. He also pointed out the program survived just fine, too, eventually winning three nationals championships.
"So all is well in UConn land."
-- Florida coach Billy Donovan is concerned about the backcourt match-up.
"They've got three really, really good guard, experienced guards," Donovan said. "Napier, without question, is one of the elite point guards in the country. But it's not just him.. … They have three guards that they're able to put the ball in their hands and they're able to make plays and put a lot of pressure on your defense."
"So it's not going to be a game where we can have one guy play those guys."
-- The Gators had only seven scholarship players available for Friday's game against Florida State. There's a chance that starting guard DeVon Walker (ankle) could be available for limited duty tonight.
-- Watch out for Florida senior Casey Prather, an athletic 6-foot-6 wing. He leads the team in scoring at 19.1 points. He averaged just 4.2 points last season.
"He's just a super athlete…," Ollie said. "He's just a slasher. He gets to the paint, but he gets there with force and authority. He's just not going there to just make a play, he's going in there to embarrass people. So we've got to be able to stand up to the challenge and keep him in front of us, and make him a shooter and contest his shots."
-- It is the first game of a home-and-home contract, with UConn playing in Gainesville next season.
-- Florida's only loss came at No. 20 Wisconsin (59-53) on Nov. 12
-- The Gators have out-rebounded their last five opponents.
-- Sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith (11.8 pts, 8.6 rebs) is Florida's top reserve.
-- Hot: UConn senior Niels Giffey is shooting 68 percent (15-for-22) from 3-point range.
-- Cold: Sophomore Omar Calhoun is just 6-for-26 from the field in last four games.
When asked about what Calhoun can do to shake his shooting slump, Ollie responded: "Don't concentrate on your shooting, make your teammates better. … When you try to make your teammates better, everything works out for you."
-- It's no secret the Huskies prefer playing at Gampel Pavilion. Junior Ryan Boatright is looking forward to the atmosphere tonight.
"It's going to be crazy. If anybody has seen a ranked team in Gampel, it's ridiculous. I think for the students alone they've been waiting on a game like this at Gampel. I think it's going to be exciting. It's going to be fun."
-- Approximately 20-to-25 NBA scouts will be on hand.
-- The Huskies downplayed the significant of the game.
"It's a pretty big game," sophomore Phil Nolan said. "But we feel like every game is a big game. You could easily lose to a mid-major team."
-- For the most part, Ollie has been happy with UConn's defense. The Huskies are holding opponents to 64 points and 36 percent from the field.
But he also factors in rebounding when considering the big defensive picture.
"Pretty good, if you go by the numbers," Ollie said of his team's defense. "But if you put the rebounds in there, which you've got to do, we've been a C. You've got to finish a defensive possession with a rebound."
-- Up next: UConn hosts Maine Friday in Hartford.
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