(2) Connecticut 66

(26-2, 13-2 Big East)

South Florida 53

(6-22, 0-15 Big East)

7:00 PM ET, March 1, 2006

USF Sun Dome, Tampa, Florida

1 2 T
#2CONN 31 3566
USF 18 3553

Top Performers

Connecticut: J. Boone 17 Pts, 15 Reb, 3 Blk

South Florida: S. Jones 12 Pts, 12 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Stl, 6 Blk

No. 2 UConn slips past South Florida despite poor shooting

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun tipped his hat to Robert McCullum, his counterpart at South Florida.

The second-ranked Huskies (26-2, 13-2 Big East) outmanned South Florida on Wednesday night, but didn't outplay the Bulls in a 66-53 victory that moved Calhoun into a tie with Jerry Tarkanian for 14th place on the career wins list with 729.

South Florida (6-22, 0-15) has lost a school-record 17 straight and remained winless against conference opponents in its first season in the Big East.

"We just have superior numbers of people. Not even superior people because Robert gets them to play as well as any guy in this league," said Calhoun, who is 481-174 in 20 seasons at UConn. "What he's done is instill, in my opinion, a work ethic that's as good as any team in our league and almost any league in the country."

Josh Boone scored 17 points and Denham Brown added 16 for the Huskies, who squandered most of a double-digit lead built by scoring the first 18 points of the game. They avoided a total collapse with Boone delivering a key basket to help them pull away after South Florida pulled within three midway through the second half.

The Huskies prevailed despite shooting 35.5 percent in the first half and 36.1 percent for the game, including 2-for-17 from 3-point range. Rudy Gay joined Brown and Boone, who had 15 rebounds, in double figures with 10 points.

Rather than make excuses, Calhoun and his players complimented South Florida's defense.

"That's definitely the strength of their team. They force you out of your offense, they bump you on all your cuts and front you in the post," Boone said. "They never give up. They fight you for everything."

Eight of the Bulls' conference losses have been by seven or fewer points, including a 49-46 loss to No. 4 Villanova at home on Jan. 24.

And even though the Bulls came up short again, they demonstrated why they've been troublesome for so many opponents by twice trimming 18-point deficits to single digits after UConn began each half strong.

Solomon Jones, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds, led a 24-9 run that pulled South Florida within 45-42. UConn took control for good when Boone's layup started a burst that quickly restored to lead to 55-45.

"We talk to them about how well they've fared against the best teams in the league ... trying to create positive thoughts," McCullum said. "Along with that, we did tell them point blank how important it is to get off to a good start. Obviously, we didn't do that."

Brown scored a career-high 23 to pace UConn's 14-point victory over Villanova on Sunday, and he was instrumental again this time with 13 points during a first half that saw the other offensive star from last weekend struggle.

Rashad Anderson, who came off the bench to score 17 against Villanova, couldn't buy a basket in what essentially was a homecoming for the senior from nearby Lakeland. He missed all six of his shots in the opening half and finished 1-for-8, although the lone basket he made -- a 3-pointer in the closing minutes -- helped the Huskies seal the game.

"Rashad wanted to be so good tonight, and of all guys who I thought wanted the limelight at home, it's really unfortunate he didn't have the kind of game he's capable of having," Calhoun said. "He's a terrific basketball player ... the best sixth man in college basketball."

James Holmes led South Florida with 14 points.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 66 53
FG Made-Attempted 22-61 (.361) 21-59 (.356)
3P Made-Attempted 2-17 (.118) 4-16 (.250)
FT Made-Attempted 20-26 (.769) 7-10 (.700)
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 12 (0/0) 20 (0/0)
Largest Lead 18 0

2005-06 Season

» Mar 1, 2006 CONN 66, @USF 53Recap