HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie stated the obvious Wednesday night after his 24th-ranked and defensive-minded Huskies defeated South Florida 83-40 in another blowout victory.
“I just want an extra bucket; I want more buckets than the other team,” Ollie said. “It could be two points or it could be 40 points. At the end of the day, I want to win. Whatever it takes, we’ve got to do it.”
Junior forward DeAndre Daniels scored 12 points and freshman forward Kentan Facey came off the bench for a career-high 10 points on a night of complete dominance for the Huskies (19-5, 7-4 AAC) before 10,553 at XL Center. All 12 players who received playing time scored for the Huskies.
UConn shot 52.8 percent and had 24 assists on 28 baskets. The Huskies beat the Bulls 41-31 on the boards and held USF (12-13, 3-9) to 24 percent shooting and only 12 field goals. Center Amida Brimah, who also had nine points, had six of UConn’s 11 blocked shots and the Huskies outscored USF 30-16 in the paint.
“It was just a bad game,” USF coach Stan Heath said. “Nothing went well for us at all. From the start of the game, it seemed like all my point guards had two fouls in the first three minutes and I’m looking around to see who I can put in.”
Junior guard Musa Abdul-Aleem led USF with eight points.
“We didn’t play well and they played well,” Heath said. “It didn’t appear (Ryan) Boatright and (Shabazz) Napier had to do a whole lot but they got them off to the start they needed. Once that happened they were in cruise control.”
Ollie was able to rest his guard tandem of Boatright (nine points) and Napier (eight points) and go to his bench early. The Huskies pulled out to a 31-point lead at halftime and won despite being without two regular players — sophomore guard Omar Calhoun (concussion) and senior forward Tyler Olander (flu).
UConn is 8-2 since opening conference play with consecutive losses at Houston and at SMU. UConn’s last five conference victories — over Temple, Rutgers, Houston, UCF and USF — have come by an average margin of 27 points.
No. 20 Memphis visits XL Center on Saturday. The Huskies won the first meeting at Memphis 83-73 on Jan. 16.
“I thought our defense has been great the last four games,” Ollie said. “We’ve been holding guys to a combined 33 percent. We’ve just got to keep this up. I want to keep this momentum going.”
The Huskies scored the first eight points Wednesday and then methodically built their lead to 28 late in the first half. USF’s ninth turnover led to a breakout dunk by guard Lasan Kromah just before the buzzer to give the Huskies a 45-14 halftime lead.
Brimah scored five of UConn’s first six points on two dunks and a free throw. Daniels hit a jumper to make it 8-0 before guard Josh Heath scored the Bulls’ first field goal with 16:47 remaining in the half.
“It started with Amida with those two dunks,” Daniels said. “After that I thought everybody was in attack mode and just wanted to get to the paint. That’s what we did tonight.”
The Bulls missed nine of their first 10 field-goal attempts and shot 17.4 percent (4-for-23) in the first half.
“Our defense was definitely on point today,” Daniels said. “Everybody was great at communication and rotation. That was our main focus. Like (Ollie) said, we were just focused on locking them up. Our game plan was to stop them in the paint because that’s where they get all their points from.”
NOTES: Sophomore G Omar Calhoun (concussion) did not play for UConn. Calhoun, injured in UConn’s 75-55 win at UCF Sunday, did not practice Tuesday and did not accompany the Huskies to XL Center. Calhoun took an inadvertent elbow to the head, just below his eye, and played only seven minutes against UCF. Calhoun’s status is listed as day-to-day. … Senior G Shabazz Napier moved into 10th place on the UConn all-time scoring list with a 3-pointer with 13:13 remaining in the first half that gave him 1,652 points. Napier moved past Khalid El-Amin (1,650 points) and Donyell Marshall (1,648). … USF is now 13-114 all-time against opponents in the
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