24th-ranked Huskies take aim at Bulls in AAC affair
Hartford, CT (SportsNetwork.com) - The 24th-ranked Connecticut Huskies attempt to stay within striking distance in the American Athletic Conference race, as they play host to the South Florida Bulls at the XL Center on Wednesday evening.
Kevin Ollie's Huskies are coming off a 75-55 rout of UCF on the road. The win was the fourth in the last five games for UConn, which now sits at 6-4 in the conference, but there is certainly a lot of work left to catch league-leading Cincinnati (11-1).
Stan Heath's Bulls got out to a strong start in non-conference play, but that has been washed away as South Florida has floundered in AAC action at a mere 3-8. The team has dropped six of its last eight games overall, including last weekend's 79-69 loss at home to Rutgers.
Connecticut has won 10 of the 12 all-time meetings in this series. However, USF won the last meeting, a 65-51 victory in Tampa last March.
The Bulls have struggled this season with lackluster efforts on the offensive end of the floor. South Florida shoots a bland .438 from the floor overall, a number anchored down by an ugly .254 from behind the arc. The 3-pointer isn't even a threat of being a weapon for the Bulls, with just 3.1 treys per contest. Senior forward Victor Rudd leads the way with 15.0 ppg, but it is volume driven, as he has taken 306 shots on the season, converting at a lackluster .415 overall. Rudd is also tops on the team in rebounding at 6.8 rpg. Junior guard Corey Allen Jr. rounds out the double-digit threats on the roster at 10.3 ppg, although Chris Perry (9.7 ppg) and Martino Brock (9.1 ppg) aren't far off the mark.
Brock led four Bulls in double figures with 17 points, but it wasn't enough in a 10-point loss to the Scarlet Knights last weekend. Rudd finished with 15 points, followed by Perry and John Egbunu, who netted 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Huskies got a balanced effort across the board in their lopsided win over UCF. All-American candidate Shabazz Napier was once again the driving force in the win, producing a stat line that included 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Lasan Kromah added 17 points and seven boards of his own, followed by DeAndre Daniels (16 pts, 7 rebs), Ryan Boatright (11 pts) and Phillip Nolan (10 pts).
UConn is used to solid offensive numbers this year. The Huskies are averaging a steady 75.3 ppg, shooting .462 from the field, including an impressive .401 from 3-point range (11th nationally). Napier is one of the nation's premier playmakers, leading UConn in scoring (17.7 ppg), rebounding (5.9 rpg), assists (5.6 apg) and steals (42). The team missed Daniels (13.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg) for a few games, but his return should help stabilize the play up front down the stretch. Boatright (12.2 ppg) provides the team with a third potent scoring option.