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Men's Basketball: Huskies spark second-half run to avoid upset

Senior Staff Writer

Published: Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 23:02

Lindsay Collier

UConn’s Shabazz Napier (13) dribbles the ball against an USF defender during a game at the XL Center on Feb. 12, 2014. The Huskies visited the Bulls at Tampa Wednesday night and pulled out a 61-56 victory over the Bulls to avoid the upset.

Two weeks after the UConn men’s basketball team dominated South Florida by 43 points at home, the Huskies got tested by the Bulls at the Sun Dome in Tampa, Fla. Wednesday night before pulling out a 61-56 victory.

Using an 18-0 run midway through the second half, the Huskies erased a 38-29 deficit to jump ahead to 47-38 and held off the hosts to improve to 22-6 overall and 10-5 in the American Athletic Conference.

Shabazz Napier scored 17 points – 15 in the second half – to lead all scorers, and Ryan Boatright followed with 11 of his 14 points in the second half as well to help the Huskies avoid the upset.

Both sides shot poorly in the first half, with USF going 35.7 percent from the field and UConn shooting 29.2 percent.

Napier and Boatright were a combined 0-for-8 from the field in the first half and combined for five points from the free throw line.

UConn trailed 28-22 at halftime after USF’s Martino Brock hit a 3-pointer to beat the buzzer.

The shooting touch returned for the Huskies in the second half as the team combined to go 7-for-9 from beyond the arc and shot 56 percent from the field in the comeback effort.

Senior forward Victor Rudd led the Bulls with 14 points after scoring just six on one basket in the previous meeting.

The loss prevented USF (12-16, 3-12 American) from topping the 12-win mark they set last season for the fifth consecutive try. The Bulls last won on Feb. 5 at UCF.

The Huskies also avoided what would have been a second upset in as many trips to Tampa. USF handed UConn a 14-point loss on March 6, 2013.

UConn will return home to host the conference-leading No. 11 Cincinnati on Saturday at noon at the XL Center.

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