Going into this one, no rational person expected a USF win -- especially after they got blown out 83-40 in their last rodeo against UConn. Despite UConn playing their third game in the last seven days, they were still expected to win rather easily.
USF (12-16, 3-12 American) hung around against all odds, and even led for a good chunk of the game, but succumbed to a late 18-0 run and never fully recovered. One positive takeaway was that they crashed the glass hard and out rebounded UConn 39-29 (nine from that gap came on the offensive side too). Every player that checked into the game got at least one rebound, so it was a team effort.
Victor Rudd was the lone Bull to get into double digits, scoring 14. He also managed to get eight rebounds and five assists, but couldn't get anything to fall from three-point land (0-5). John Egbunu had a good night with eight points and nine rebounds.
"It's hard to lose a game when you're winning at the half and you're playing really well," said USF head coach Stan Heath. "We did a lot of good things out there, we rebounded the heck out of the basketball."
UConn (22-6, 10-5 American) had an off night offensively, but kept it close enough to give them a chance to win- a chance they were not about to squander. After 6'9" forward DeAndre Daniels opened the scoring up with a three-pointer, the Huskies missed their next six in a row from long range before recovering and going 8 for their last 11 (a total of 9-for-18 on the night).
The Huskies' two leading scorers, Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright, started out a combined 1-for-10, but got it going midway through the second half. They made 8 of their next 14 shots and finished with a combined 31 points. Napier was definitely impressive throughout the game, and finished with a great stat line too: 17 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds. He hit two ridiculous left-handed layups down the stretch, then drained a deep three to seal the win for the Huskies with 24 seconds left. We can't figure out why he's only a projected second-round pick in the NBA Draft because this kid has some serious talent.
"I've seen him hit the buzzer shot against Florida, I've seen him do it in our league... he's an assassin," said Stan Heath on Napier. "He's got that takeover ability."
Up next for the Bulls is a road trip up to Piscataway, NJ to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights this Saturday, March 1st. Tipoff is set for 12:00 PM and will be televised on ESPNEWS.