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Preview: FSU Hoops Faces UConn in Never Forget Tribute Classic

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Florida State basketball played a sloppy first half before downing the Troy Trojans earlier this week, moving to 7-1 on the season ahead of its match-up with the Connecticut Huskies on Saturday. UConn boasts a similarly good 7-2 record, with a key victory over a ranked Syracuse team, but losses to Iowa and Arizona.

A win for the Seminoles would be a slight boost to their resume in the non-conference slate. A win for the Huskies would be their second ranked win of the year, and would likely vault them into the top 25.

We break down the upcoming contest between two teams in similar positions, who actually employ many of the same philosophies.

The Match-Up

Who: No. 11 Florida State Seminoles (7-1) vs. UConn Huskies (7-2)
What: Never Forget Tribute Classic
When: Saturday, Dec. 8 at 6:30 p.m. EST (ESPN2)
Where: Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey (Neutral)

Key Players

For UConn
Jalen Adams, G (Sr.): 19.0 PPG, 2.9 APG, 1.4 SPG
Christian Vital, G (Jr.): 12.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.6 SPG
Alterique Gilbert, G (So.): 11.3 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.9 RPG

Terance Mann, G (Sr.): 11.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.1 APG
Mfiondu Kabengele, F (So.): 11.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.6 TPG
Trent Forrest, G (Jr.): 10.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.6 APG

What to Watch For

Tempo – Both Connecticut and FSU try to use a fast tempo to exploit defenses and get their scorers in prime position. It works out well for both, though each have mixed results when facing teams with comparable talent. That will once again be tested on Saturday, as Connecticut ranks 37th in adjusted tempo according to the Ken Pomeroy ratings and 32nd in possessions per game nationally. If Florida State cannot get its turnover issue under control, Connecticut has the advantage.

Rebounding – Another area where each team gets high marks is rebounding. They are virtually tied in total rebounding percentage, with Connecticut ranking 18th and Florida State ranking 21st. The Seminoles are slightly better at offensive rebounding, but that is about the only difference. More impressively, Connecticut has nine players averaging more than two rebounds per game, compared to seven Florida State. It’s going to be a dogfight for 40 minutes around the rim.

Connecticut’s post defense – One category that Connecticut has a clear advantage in is shot blocking. The Huskies rank 52nd nationally in block percentage and have two players (Josh Carlton and Tyler Polley) averaging more than one per game. Florida State loves to attack the basket and go for the contested shots around the rim, so it will have to deal with a Connecticut defense built to frustrate opponents.

Number to Pay Attention To

34: In both of Connecticut’s losses, it shot under 34 percent from 3-point range. Not surprisingly, UConn scored just 72 points in each contest.

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