clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UConn Men’s Basketball Grinds Out Tight Win Over USF

UConn didn’t play like Ray Allen in the game his jersey was retired, but the Huskies found other ways to win.

UConn’s Josh Carlton slams home two of his 12 first half points. He finished with 16.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Defense and inside scoring carried UConn men’s basketball as the outside shooting fell into a deep slump, beating South Florida 60-58 in a grind-it-out game at Gampel Pavilion on Sunday afternoon.

Josh Carlton led the Huskies with 16 points and nine rebounds, keeping the Huskies ahead when the offense needed him most. Alterique Gilbert added 15 points, primarily on layups and free throws, as the Huskies scored one-third of their points from the charity stripe.

UConn did not make a three-pointer, limiting the team’s ability to score. USF’s outside shooting was nearly as futile, concerting only three of its 19 attempts.

Despite the presence of Ray Allen, in attendance for his jersey number retirement ceremony, both offenses struggled to establish a presence early. The Huskies failed to capitalize on open jump shots, while their defense held the Bulls to only tough looks.

Carlton represented the only consistent early threat for either team, outscoring USF singlehandedly 12 minutes into the game, and gave UConn a weapon on the interior before the shooters could set themselves up from the perimeter. It took more than 16 minutes for either team to hit a three, as both got subpar play out of their guards.

UConn led 28-27 at the break despite little offense from the outside, but thanks to post scoring and their aggressiveness drawing fouls. The physicality in the opening frame complemented the Bulls’ playing style more, but USF had worse first-half foul trouble, shortening a rotation dependent on precise lineups.

Carlton came out of the locker room hot, but sloppier passing led to turnovers, preventing the Huskies from starting the second half on a run.

Foul trouble kept some of the Bulls’ most important players off the court for stretches in the second half, allowing the Huskies to extend their lead to seven before the ten-minute mark before South Florida chipped its way back into the game, taking the lead back with six minutes to go.

The Huskies’ lack of scoring from outside became a problem when the Bulls switched to a defensive zone the Huskies had trouble breaking. With Carlton neutralized in the zone, the offense relied upon guard play and sharp passing, two areas they had not shown much effectiveness in to that point.

The Bulls’ physical style was only intermittently rewarded, though, as they seemed to alternate tough defense with avoidable fouls, allowing the Huskies to score points from the line even when struggling from the floor. USF did not hold the lead for long, though the final minutes were back and forth.

Gilbert’s runner with 49 seconds left gave the Huskies a one-point lead, and the ensuing possession after a Bulls turnover resulted in a pair of free throws for Tarin Smith. On the final USF possession, Sidney Wilson fouled David Collins behind the arc, giving the Bulls the chance to tie the game from the stripe.

Collins missed his second free throw but made his third, which put Gilbert at the line with a one-point lead. The Huskies’ lead guard only hit one, giving South Florida one final chance in regulation, but the inbounds pass didn’t connect and UConn closed out the close win.

Carlton led the Huskies in assists as well, albeit with only three and Christian Vital had the high mark among bench players with nine points. UConn hosts NCAA Tournament hopeful Temple for Senior Night on Thursday.