HARTFORD, Conn. – Kemba Walker had 24 points and eight rebounds to lead No. 4 Connecticut to a 66-61 overtime victory over South Florida on Friday.
The Huskies (11-1, 1-1 Big East), coming off their first loss of the season to No. 6 Pittsburgh, avoided losing two straight despite shooting 37.5 percent from the field and trailing throughout the game. South Florida shot 41.8 percent.
Tied at 58 at the end of regulation, UConn outscored South Florida 8-3 in the 5-minute overtime and held the Bulls (6-9, 0-2) scoreless until Anthony Crater hit a 3-pointer as time expired.
Walker made 7 of 18 shots from the field, none bigger than a leaner in the lane that gave UConn a 62-58 lead with 1:24 left.
Alex Oriahki scored 15 points for UConn.
Augustus Gilchrist had 21 points and Crater, who was 4 of 5 from 3-point range, added 14 for the Bulls, who have lost six of seven.
Crater hit a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left in regulation to tie it after Walker's jumper had given the Huskies a 58-55 lead.
Connecticut ran the clock down for a final shot in regulation and Shabazz Napier missed a short jumper at the buzzer to force the overtime.
South Florida led 46-37 with 11 minutes remaining, but UConn scored the next six points. The Huskies took their first lead of the second half on a layup by Napier that made it 56-55 with 2:33 left.
Jamal Coombs-McDaniel and Roscoe Smith both made two free throws in the final minute to clinch UConn's first Big East victory.
The Huskies offset the poor shooting effort from the field (21 of 56) by making 22 of 26 free throws
With upcoming road games against No. 15 Notre Dame and No. 13 Texas, it was important the Huskies bounced back against South Florida, which has the worst overall record in the Big East.
UConn played a zone defense most of the second half, forcing South Florida into a half-court offense.
The teams were tied 28-28 at halftime as South Florida shot 40.7 percent and UConn 39.1 percent.
UConn made its first four shots to take an 8-0 lead, then went more than 6 minutes without a field goal.
Crater's layup on a backdoor play gave South Florida a 26-19 lead with 3:11 remaining, but UConn closed the half with a 9-2 run.