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UConn:Jefferson’s nine snatches one shy of program record

Associate Sports Editor

Published: Thursday, January 23, 2014

Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2014 23:01

In the American Athletic Conference standings, it’s UConn and Louisville, a small second tier of teams and the rest of the pack.

On Sunday, the top-ranked Huskies take on a member of that middle class, South Florida, at the XL Center.

The Bulls (10-8, 5-2 American) enter the matchup unranked, but sit tied for third in the conference with Rutgers and boast Preseason All Conference-Team member Inga Orekhova.

The senior guard has averaged a solid 8.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game thus far and shot at a 31.5 percent clip from behind the arc. But it’s Courtney Williams that paces USF on the offensive side of the ball, averaging just under 15 points per game – good for eighth in the conference – and shooting an efficient 43.4 percent from the field.

The Bulls also have a track record of playing close games with top teams. Three times this season they have played top-15 opponents, and all three times the games have been decided by eight points or fewer, including a one-point loss to then-No. 14 Oklahoma State. Add in their near-upset of Notre Dame in last year’s Big East Tournament, and USF could shape up to be one of the few teams capable of giving the Huskies some trouble.

UConn (20-0, 7-0 American) has been in excellent form the last few games, however, and that will make the task far more difficult. Against Memphis on Wednesday, Stefanie Dolson recorded her 50th block of the season, joining Breanna Stewart and Kiah Stokes as three Huskies with 50-plus blocks – the first time that’s happened in school history.

Bria Hartley, the reigning American Player of the Week, has also been playing with a renewed swagger as of late, recording four straight games with double-digit points and two straight with at least 20 points for the first time in her career.

Add in Moriah Jefferson’s ability to grab steals, like her nine against the Tigers and strong sense of ball security, and the Bulls certainly have a tall order ahead of them.

One reprieve is the likely absence of Morgan Tuck, who has missed four straight games with a bone bruise on her left knee; the same knee that required arthroscopic surgery earlier in the season.

Tip-off is scheduled for noon Sunday. The game can be seen on CBS Sports Network.

 

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