Huskies look to get back on track against Bulls
Published: Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 22:02
Since going to Texas and losing its first two games in American Athletic Conference play, the UConn men’s basketball team is 10-3, losing only once on the road.
Coming off another loss, this time to SMU at home Sunday afternoon, the Huskies will be back on the road Wednesday night, looking to get back on the winning track against South Florida.
On a day marked by the inductions of the 1998-99 men’s basketball team and point guard Khalid El-Amin into the UConn Huskies of Honor, the present-day Huskies (21-6, 9-5 American) struggled to score against one of the nation’s top defenses. UConn shot 29.6 percent in a 64-55 loss that bumped the Huskies out of the Associated Press Top 25.
“We executed sometimes,” junior guard Ryan Boatright said, “but we just had a bad game all-around especially on the offensive end. I think we played pretty good defense and we outrebounded them, but we just didn’t execute on offense.”
The poor shooting night was far from normal for a team that is shooting 45.5 percent from the field and averaging 74.9 points per game.
“This is the point in the season where they know what’s going to come,” senior forward Niels Giffey said. “They scout us and they will take our first or second option away so we have to continue working to get the right shots at the right time. Obviously, you have to move the defense before doing that. It can’t be the first pick and roll, it has to be more than that.”
Offense should be less of an issue against USF (12-15, 3-11). The Bulls rank sixth in the American in defensive scoring, allowing an average of 70.9 points per game. UConn, which ranks fourth, allows only 63.7 points, which bodes well against a team that ranks 300th in the nation offensively at 65.5 points per game.
The Bulls are still in contention for an automatic place in the AAC Quarterfinals, but with each passing game the odds are stacked higher against them. USF is on a four-game losing streak and has lost nine of its last 11 games, winning at home against SMU on Jan. 28 and at UCF on Feb. 5.
Last time UConn and USF met, it got ugly quickly. The Huskies got out in front and kept pounding the life out of the Bulls until the scoreboard said 83-40.
UConn’s last trip to the Sun Dome was ugly in a different sense for the Huskies. Without Giffey and Napier already, UConn lost Tyler Olander to an injury mid-game, Omar Calhoun shot 1 of 14, and the Huskies never stood a chance against the Bulls, losing 65-51.
Wednesday’s game tips off at 7 p.m. and will air on CBS Sports Network.