The Huskies did a little bit of everything on Thursday night in Tampa. They shot well, created turnovers, dominated the glass, and they dunked- a lot. Rodney Purvis even discovered a new way to get under head coach Kevin Ollie's skin. Luckily Purvis scored a game-high 18 points, including a stretch in the second half of scorching-hot shooting from three, leading UConn to a much-needed win over USF at the Sun Dome, 81-51.
Coming off a loss at Cincinnati, the Huskies needed to get back on track against one of the AAC's weakest opponents. UConn dominated on its way to securing its 20th win. With the win, Ollie now has his fourth straight 20-win season.
The Huskies (20-8, 10-5) jumped on USF early, holding the Bulls to 13 points in the first half on 4-of-26 shooting. UConn forced USF (7-22, 4-12) into six of its 15 turnovers in the first half as good ball movement from Daniel Hamilton (4 points; 8 rebounds; 9 assists) and Jalen Adams (12 points; 6 rebounds; 6 assists) picked apart the Bulls' 2-3 zone. Adams set up a pair of easy dunks to freshman Steven Enoch and Kentan Facey and the ole' faithful Hamilton alley-oop lob to Brimah was working to perfection.
The Huskies went into the break up 15, having recording more dunks (7) than USF had field goals (4). UConn would outscore the Bulls, 42-20 in the paint and win the rebounding battle, 37-27.
Shonn Miller (16 points; 7 rebounds) added to his UConn highlight reel with a pretty throw down off the an inbounds play, setting the tone in the second half as the Huskies' lead swelled to 20 plus.
Then Purvis caught fire from beyond the arc, knocking down three-pointers on four straight possessions giving UConn a 59-33 lead with 10:24 to play. Purvis was briefly benched following his off-the-glass alley-oop attempt to Brimah that resulted in a turnover. The play did create the highlight of the night as Purvis walked back to his seat on the bench, catching a great glare from assistant coach Ricky Moore.
The Huskies led for just under 35 out of 40 minutes, holding the Bulls to 28 percent shooting overall. Everything went well, really: the defense was swarming; the offense didn't have any extended droughts; the big men stayed out of foul trouble; Sterling Gibbs shot well; Adams was masterful in the lane; Amida Brimah finished his opportunities. In total, the team combed for 21 assists on 32 made baskets shooting 57 percent.
UConn will need a similar effort on Sunday when it hosts a solid Houston team at Gampel Pavilion at 1 p.m.