After a much needed win at home following a disappointing road trip, UConn travels to their second home (third?) to take on a less talented Florida school.
USF comes into Hartford at 7-12 with a 1-5 record in conference play. The Bulls have lost 9 of their last 11 games, including their last four.
The first of those four came against the Huskies, who overcame a slow start to beat USF 58-44. The Huskies were trailing by seven early on but then went on a 21-2 run to blow the game open. Amida Brimah was able to control the paint, swatting six shots to go along with his game-leading 13 points, and 8 rebounds.
Consistency has been an issue for Brimah and he has not put together consecutive double-digit scoring efforts since late December against CCSU and Temple. However, he has a very good chance to have another big performance after scoring 14 points to go along with 4 blocks against UCF, dominating both sides of the floor despite playing just 20 minutes.
The win against UCF had a lot of positives, and there are a number of things that the Huskies will look to build on in today's game as they get ready to attempt to make their push to get off of the bubble.
First and foremost, Ryan Boatright finally looked close to 100 percent. He scored 18 points, including 4-6 shooting behind the arc and, most importantly, stepped up and made plays when the team needed him most. This is the most vital thing for the Huskies moving forward, because at the end of the day the team is going to go as Boatright goes. This USF game will give us a chance to see how much his health has improved since the game against the Bulls on January 6th, when Boatright fought through injury for 31 minutes and was limited to 10 points.
UConn's supporting cast helped out as well in Thursday night's game with Daniel Hamilton having perhaps his most complete game as a Husky with 10 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, and 0 turnovers. Omar Calhoun had "his best game in a long time", according to Boatright, scoring 11 points on 3-5 shooting from three (and a dunk! :O ). It marked Calhoun's first consecutive games in double digits since November 2013. Watch for him to stay confident and be aggressive in this one.
For USF, their hopes hinge largely on leading scorer Corey Allen Jr., who is averaging 14.6 points per game. He struggled in the first game against the Huskies, scoring 12 points on just 4-12 shooting. The Bulls aren't a team that gets hot from three, shooting just 27.4 percent from deep on the year, so if Allen is off, USF's chances to win grow even smaller.
Prediction: I think that Boatright is chomping at the bit after scoring just 10 points last time out against USF, so I see him scoring an efficient, team leading 16 points while allowing opportunities for Hamilton, Calhoun, and Purvis to keep growing toward that supporting cast that he will need down the stretch. Brimah will anchor the Husky defense against a USF offense ranked 269th in the country, and the XL crowd will be filing out of the arena early (like almost every game) after a relatively stress-free win.
UConn 71 USF 52