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Preview: No. 5 UConn vs. Mississippi Valley State | FS2, 7 p.m.

This is the final tuneup before the 2K Sports Empire Classic.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi Valley State at Oklahoma Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

UConn men’s basketball, newly minted as the No. 5 team in the country according to the AP Poll, is at No. 4 in KenPom and is riding high after a pair of convincing victories over Northern Arizona and Stonehill. The Huskies face off against the worst team in KenPom’s ratings, Mississippi Valley State, on Tuesday in their final buy game before the 2K Sports Empire Classic on Sunday and Monday.


Radio: UConn Sports Network

Odds (via DraftKings): UConn -42.5, over/under 146.5

KenPom Predicted Score: No. 5 UConn 93, MVSU 52 | 99.99 percent win probability

What to watch for

A sharper defensive start

UConn has come away with a pair of dominant wins against overmatched teams, using its size, athleticism and skill to bully Northern Arizona and Stonehill on the offensive end to the tune of 1.38 points per possession over both games. However, the defense hasn’t been as tight to begin games. It hasn’t mattered yet, but against the worst team in Division I, with the nation’s least efficient offense, Dan Hurley is likely looking for a suffocating effort.

Will Donovan Clingan play more minutes?

After playing 15 minutes in the season opener, Donovan Clingan moved up to 16 minutes against Stonehill, but still scored 16 points with seven rebounds. The second half was largely garbage time on Saturday, which limited the benefit in rolling the center out there as he recovers from a foot injury. This game should be more of the same, but it’s the last chance for Clingan to get extended run before a battle with Indiana on Sunday and either Louisville or Texas the following day. He is likely to play heavy minutes in both contests.

Don’t look ahead to the Hoosiers

The season gets going for real on Sunday, when UConn and Indiana meet in the 2K Sports Empire Classic at Madison Square Garden. It’s highly unlikely that the Huskies suffer a loss to the Delta Devils, as they’re almost further away from a 0.00 adjusted efficiency rating in KenPom than the Huskies are, but if UConn is looking forward to Indiana, then this game may stay closer than it would like for longer than it would like.

Key stats

87.1 - Mississippi Valley State’s adjusted offensive efficiency, according to KenPom. That’s the worst in the country and lower than UConn’s adjusted defensive efficiency.

20.4 - The share of points that the Delta Devils get from 3-pointers. That’s No. 301 in the country and with just one player taller than 6-foot-8, this could be a recipe for disaster for Mississippi Valley State.

5 - This will be the fifth matchup all-time between UConn and a school from Mississippi. The Huskies are 1-0 against Ole Miss and 1-2 against Mississippi State.

2 - UConn is playing against two HBCUs this season. Dan Hurley has regularly scheduled these programs since taking over in Storrs, with one in 2022-23 and three the year before that.

73.6 - UConn’s 2-point percentage, which is second in the country, behind only Creighton. Clingan, who is shooting 57.1 percent inside the arc, has the lowest percentage among rotation players. Cam Spencer and Jaylin Stewart are both perfect.