|3:30 PM PT4:30 PM MT5:30 PM CT6:30 PM ET11:30 PM GMT7:30 PM 北京时间4:30 PM MST6:30 PM EST, Dec 8, 2018
Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey Attendance: 7,142
No. 11 Florida State hopes to stop UConn
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Connecticut is looking to continue its offensive momentum against 11th-ranked Florida State in the Never Forget Tribute Classic this Saturday.
Just this past week, the Huskies outscored their last opponent, Lafayette, 90-63 at home, where five of their players scored in the double digits.
With their sights set high, UConn is hoping that knocking out a ranked team will prove that they belong in the NCAA tournament. They haven't made the tournament since 2016 but feel confident that the starting lineup they have this year is capable of being competitive against top teams.
Senior guard Jalen Adams, who scored 21 points against Lafayette and has averaged 12.9 points per game throughout his past three seasons with the Huskies, isn't deterred from their recent lost to Pac-12 contender Arizona.
"We have the confidence that we can compete with anyone in the country," Adams said. "We just have to come out and execute on those nights."
Part of this confidence is due to redshirt sophomore Alterique Gilbert's ability to run the offense. Gilbert, whose previous two seasons ended early due to a shoulder injury requiring surgery, is back and finally healthy. While only scoring 2 points against Lafayette, he had a career high of 11 assists with zero turnovers.
Sophomore starting forward Tyler Polley, who had 16 points last game, had high praises for Alterique.
"When he plays like that, it's hard to beat us. He was doing a great job." Polley said. "Once he gets all the rust off, man, he's gonna be scary."
While UConn seems ready to face their biggest opponent of the season thus far, the Seminoles are just trying to stay focused and improve themselves, according to head coach Leonard Hamilton.
"I think we've shown that we have potential to be a pretty good team but we still have a lot of room for improvement," Hamilton said. Later, he added, "We have to learn to adjust to being a highly ranked team and getting everybody's best effort."
Hamilton believes that despite their ranking, Florida State has to play better than they normally do and avoid getting distracted by their impressive numbers. The Seminoles are currently 7-1, only losing to Villanova, and are averaging 78.8 points per game as a team. Additionally, four players -- Terance Mann, Mfiondu Kabengele, MJ Walker and Trent Forrest -- are all averaging over 10 points per game.
However, despite beating Wednesday's opponent Troy by 16 points, Florida State turned the ball over 11 times in just one half. The Seminoles will be focusing on moving the ball around more efficiently on offense in order to avoid turnovers and to allow forwards to attack the basket more. Hamilton believes this is where they struggled the most, and consistency is their biggest worry going into the game against UConn.
Four Seminole players missed a few days of practice last week from varying problems, such as pink eye and two rolled ankles, and for the team it's just a matter of getting fully back in sync with one another. All will suit up this weekend, including senior forward Phil Cofer, who is dressing out for the first time this season.
Last season, Cofer was Florida State's minutes leader and leading scorer with an average of 12.8 points per game. He has been out since October due to a foot injury, but Cofer has participated in practice for the first time this past week. However, the Seminoles' coaching staff still doesn't expect him to play just yet.
"I'm not comfortable that the right thing to do is take him on the road in a hostile environment in a big game," Hamilton said.
Florida State has not yet played any conference games and believe it is best to wait until for a smaller game where Cofer can play with limited minutes and get his confidence before facing a tough ACC schedule.
Updated December 8, 2018