UConn-Temple Preview

BY foxsports • February 19, 2014

Shabazz Napier's most recent performance only solidified Kevin Ollie's opinion that the senior is the nation's best guard. The Connecticut coach can also refer to Napier's stellar showing in the team's first meeting with Temple.

The 21st-ranked Huskies seek a fourth straight victory by knocking off the upset-minded Owls on the road Thursday night.

Napier, who ranks second in the American Athletic Conference with an 18.0 scoring average, had a career-high 34 to help UConn (20-5, 8-4) win for the sixth time in seven games with an 86-81 overtime victory over then-No. 20 Memphis on Saturday.

The highlight for Napier was his three-point play that tied the score with less than a minute remaining. He committed only one turnover and the Huskies finished with six overall - their second-fewest of the season.

"He's a great player. He's an All-American player. I know I might be biased, but he's the best guard in America to me, hands down," Ollie said. "He just keeps focusing in on the things we need to do to win. He knows when it's time to take over the game, or when to get DeAndre (Daniels) in the game, get (Ryan Boatright) in the game. He's just a heady basketball player."

Boatright finished with a season-best 21 points while hitting 11 of 12 from the free-throw line. The junior guard is shooting 34.5 percent over his last nine, but he has only 18 turnovers in that stretch.

"Every win from now on is important for us," he said. "Every game we're trying to get a win, no matter if it's at home or on the road. We know we're going to get everyone's best shot. We just have to step out there, tie our shoes up, and take care of business."

Boatright missed UConn's 90-66 win over Temple on Jan. 21 to attend the funeral of his cousin, who was shot and killed in Boatright's hometown of Aurora, Ill. Napier helped pick up the slack, though, hitting 9 of 14 from the field - 5 of 8 from 3-point range - and finishing with 27 points.

Daniels scored a career-high 31 against the Owls, who will be seeking a second straight upset after defeating then-No. 23 SMU 71-64 at home Sunday.

Temple (7-17, 2-10) is tied for last in the 10-team AAC and had dropped 12 of its previous 13, but leading scorer Dalton Pepper had 24 points to help secure a rare win.

"I think (Sunday) was our turn," coach Fran Dunphy said. "We came together. More than anything else I just keep pounding into their heads that everything's going to be OK. It may not always come when you want it to come, but in the end everything is going to be OK. It was just our turn."

The Owls pulled out the win despite missing forward Anthony Lee, who averages 14.0 points and a conference-best 8.9 rebounds. Dunphy said Lee suffered a left knee injury in Friday's loss to Louisville and is questionable against the Huskies.

"It will be up to Anthony and the doctors," Dunphy said. "He just didn't feel like he could go (Sunday). I respect that, and I'll respect it when he comes to me (before Thursday's game) saying he can go or he can't go. We'll just work through it."

UConn has won three of four on the road, while the Owls are just 3-8 at home.

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