- Associated Press - Monday, March 21, 2011

STORRS, CONN. (AP) - Maya Moore has never lost at Gampel Pavilion, and is not expecting that to change in her final home game.

The senior All American leads the top-ranked Huskies (33-1) against ninth-seeded Purdue (21-11) on Tuesday in the NCAA tournament’s second round. It will be Moore’s 40th and final game at the arena that she considers her second home.

“I’ve spent more time in Gampel than anywhere else, if you take away sleeping in my room,” Moore said. “That’s the place that I’m in the most, just for practice, hanging out, doing school work. There have been some great games here, and there isn’t any other group that I have been a part of that has protected their home court as much as we have.”

Moore, who is averaging 22.5 points and almost eight rebounds this season, also is 41-0 on the Huskies’ other home court, the XL Center in Hartford. She and fellow senior Lorin Dixon are 147-3 in their careers.

Coach Geno Auriemma said Moore would not be human if she is not thinking about the end of her UConn days as she prepares for her final home game in practice, and in warmups. But he said once the whistle blows, he doesn’t think it will affect her.

“Five minutes into the game, you could be on the playground, playing against a bunch of your friends or your AAU team and the game just takes over,” he said. “I’m hoping that tomorrow it’s us against Purdue and not Maya against her memories. She can help us beat Purdue. She’s not going to win that memory game.”

Purdue’s players know the odds, and realize they aren’t expected to present much of a challenge to UConn. But unlike many of Connecticut’s opponents this season, they also are not intimidated or overwhelmed by the experience.

Everything was put in perspective, they said, when forward Drey Mingo went down in November with a life-threatening case of meningitis. Mingo, originally given about a 50-percent chance of survival, returned to the court just 16 days later. Despite some significant hearing loss, she is playing well.

Mingo scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the Boilermakers’ 53-45 first-round win over Kansas State.

“Drey was fighting for her life, and that’s the biggest fight you can ever go up against,” guard Brittany Rayburn said. “So, I think this whole team and the family that we’ve made over this year is not afraid of anything. We faced death right in the face, and I think that’s something not a lot of people do.”

Coach Sharon Versyp called Mingo’s story the most awe-inspiring she’s ever been associated with. She said the Boilermakers should be more emotionally strong than any other team in the nation, and Mingo said they will have no fear going into Tuesday’s game.

“Our team faced death as a family, so really its just about competing,” she said. “This is the fun part.”

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