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USF Men’s Basketball Knocks Off UConn In Conference Opener 76-68 For Seventh Straight Win

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We might just have a new best team on campus.

GoUSFBulls.com

Despite facing a double-digit deficit late in the first half, the USF men’s basketball team used a 25-point performance by Laquincy Rideau and 17 second-half points from David Collins to rally past the UConn Huskies 76-68 in the American Athletic Conference opener in front of a rowdy 3,429 on Wednesday night at the Yuengling Center.

“Gritty win, great crowd and great excitement here, that was important. We had a good crowd and we wanted to show them how we play,” head coach Brian Gregory said. “It wasn’t pretty, which we’re not sometimes, but we do fight, scratch, claw and play really hard.”

Rideau went 6-for-14 from the floor in the first 20 minutes of the game, single-handedly keeping the Bulls within striking distance. After finishing a brutal 6-for-15 from the free throw line, USF trailed 33-25 at the half.

“Q saved us in that first half,” Gregory added. “Made some plays at the rim, made some tough shots, defended really well.”

The Bulls (11-2, 1-0 AAC) grabbed their first lead since the first few seconds of the game when Collins put home a layup with 12:30 remaining to make it 41-40.

The sophomore scored all 17 of his points in the second half, including a deep three-ball in the midst of an 18-8 USF run that pushed the lead to 57-48.

“We just had to grind it out. We knew we were putting pieces together and we had to build off what we had,” Collins said. “It’s been good so far this year but we’ve got to keep it going. We’re not finished with what we want to do.”

After registering only 25 points in the first half, the Bulls exploded for 51 second-half points (the most point scored in any half this season) and dominated on the glass by outrebounding the Huskies 47-32 including a 15-8 edge in offensive rebounds.

Freshman Alexis Yetna added 12 points and eight rebounds, including a key second-half three-pointer.

As a team, the Bulls shot 44% (21-for-48) from the floor and only 33% (5-for-15) from behind the arc.

USF held UConn to eight second-half field goals and went 8-for-10 from the charity stripe in the final 1:23 to secure the victory and tie the second-best start in the program’s 48-year history.

“We’re bigger, stronger, more physical, and we’ve got some toughness. We won this game on Monday and Tuesday with our practices, our preparation and our commitment to really getting down and dirty on the defensive end and on the glass,” Gregory said. “The challenge is, now everybody will pat ‘em on the back. We’ve got to stay humble.”

Notables:

  • USF is now 3-20 all-time against UConn
  • This marks USF’s first seven-game winning streak since 2007-08, and their most wins in a season since 2013-14 (12).
  • Wednesday was the eleven-year anniversary of the Bulls last conference-opening win (68-45 vs. Rutgers on Jan. 2, 2008)
  • Despite a rocky start, USF made a season-best 29 free throws
  • This is USF’s first 11-2 start since the 1990-91 season