The UConn Huskies (13-0) opened a three-game road trip Friday night with a dominant win over Houston, pushing their current winning streak to 50.
Though the Cougars were winning after the first quarter, the Huskies outscored them 40-15 in the next two quarters and finished with a 76-37 win. Morgan Tuck sat out the game as a precaution due to her knee but Moriah Jefferson returned to action after sitting out the previous game with a minor hamstring injury.
The Huskies should be fully healthy tonight against a South Florida (10-3) team which is expecting to make some noise after bowing out in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year. They also made the 2015 AAC Tournament Final, falling to UConn (duh), 84-70.
The Bulls are once again the class of the rest of the American Athletic Conference, returning their two best players from last year along with many key contributors. The Huskies have yet to lose a conference game since the formation of the American, but if that ever does happen it will probably be at the hands of this improving USF program which finished second, by a large margin, in the conference preseason poll.
USF was the only other team besides UConn to have representation on the preseason all-conference 1st team, with forward Alisia Jenkins earning a spot and star guard Courtney Williams joining Breanna Stewart as the only other unanimous selection. Williams is currently averaging 21.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
The Bulls have played two ranked teams this season, losing to both. Baylor was ranked #5/4 when it beat USF in Texas by three points and Mississippi State was ranked #8 before beating USF by 10 at a neutral site. The Bulls also fell on the road to a solid St. John's team which is receiving top-25 votes.
Despite the relative lack of competition in the conference, the Huskies have been playing many of the top teams in the country in their non-conference schedule, having already faced Ohio State (#7), DePaul (#23), Florida State (#11), Notre Dame (#3) and Maryland (#6). Two of those games were on the road and two were on quasi-neutral sites so UConn should be very well-prepared for tonight.
With the Huskies sitting star players Stewart, Jefferson, and Tuck across the past few games, we have seen the likes of Saniya Chong, Gabby Williams, Kia Nurse and freshmen Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson stepping up in a big way. Georgetown transfer Natalie Butler has also started to make her presence felt, playing a season-high 20 minutes against Houston. If the 6-foot-5 center gets going this team will be completely unfair to play against, moreso than it already is.
Tonight's game, being on the road against the only other decent team in the conference, will be the biggest test offered by the American schedule. Expect Geno to have his team ready to come out strong, especially after failing to do so last time out against Houston.