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Game Thread: UConn vs USF ESPNews 8 p.m.

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In their opening game of the American Athletic Conference tournament, the Huskies look to extend their season

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Hartford--

**FINAL**

UConn wins 69-43

This was a needed blowout. Daniel Hamilton was absolutely sensational tonight, carrying the scoring burden. He poured in 20 points on 6-8 from the field, including 4-5 from downtown. The Huskies had four others score at least 9 points. Pat Lenehan got a rebound.

USF showed up.

As the great philosopher Bill Belichick said, "We're on to Cincinnati."

Check back here at TheUConnBlog.com for a more thorough recap with quotes from Kevin Ollie and players.

**HALFTIME**

UConn leads 29-14

This is just what the doctor ordered. Five different Huskies scored 5 or more points in the half to see UConn jump out to a commanding 15 point advantage. Already 2-0 on the season against USF, the outcome of this game was never really in doubt. But the fact that UConn came out of the gate with blowout on their mind was encouraging.

Shooting 10-20 from the field, the offense was rolling. Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun lead the way with 6 points each. Daniel Hamilton, Amida Brimah and Rodney Purvis each have 5 points as well. This well rounded attack has not let USF breathe and it has paid off. The Huskies have attacked the basket, they shot 9 free throws in the half.

Defensively, Brimah did Brimah things and by that I mean he swatted a shot into oblivion. Holding any team, regardless of how good they are, under 15 points in a half is an accomplishment. At this point, this game is well in hand. It's just up to the Huskies to put it away. Take care of business in the second half and live to fight another day.

******

This is what we've been waiting for. For about 3 weeks or so, all rational UConn fans came to the sobering realization that it would take a conference tournament championship to get into the NCAA Tournament.

After dropping their final two games of the season, UConn (17-13, 10-8 AAC) looks to keep their dreams alive. It will take four wins in as many days. The first step of that journey is tonight against USF (9-22, 3-15 AAC). UConn won both regular season meetings.

To advance, UConn needs to come out swinging. Getting off to a fast start is paramount to UConn's success, as they've lost just one game all season when leading at halftime. Look for senior Ryan Boatright to set the tone early. He dropped 21 points in the first half of the regular season finale against Temple. I can guarantee you that Boat will play with an edge and passion we haven't seen before. Trust me, Boat does not want to end his UConn career on a Thursday night opening game in Hartford.

As per usual, the supporting cast needs to step up. We all know the painstaking inconsistency this team has showed all year. Now is the time to put it all together. Kevin Ollie needs to see more production out of Rodney Purvis and Omar Calhoun, and that starts tonight. Whoever is hot early should expect to play more minutes.

It's March. It's tournament time. This is what separates teams. It is time for the UConn Huskies to show what they are made of.

Follow me on Twitter @ElanDeCarlo for up to the minute jokes, analysis, and thoughts. Check back here at theUConnBlog.com for additional coverage at halftime and post game.