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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 6, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: USF Sun Dome (12,400) -- Tampa, Florida. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: UConn 12-3, USF 9-8. Away Record: UConn 4-4, USF 2-9. Neutral Record: UConn 3-2, USF 0-0. Conference Record: UConn 9-7, USF 2-14. Series Record: UConn leads, 10-1.
GAMES NOTES: The Connecticut Huskies take their final road trip of the season when they face the South Florida Bulls in a Big East Conference battle at the USF Sun Dome on Wednesday night.
Due to sanctions handed down by the NCAA last season the Huskies are ineligible for the postseason which is too bad considering they have put together a solid campaign. UConn is 19-9 overall, right in the thick of the Big East standings (9-7). The Huskies have dropped back-to-back games and will try to get out of that rut with only a game against Providence left on the schedule following this matchup.
South Florida may be eligible for the postseason but the Bulls aren't likely to be able to take advantage as they come into this game at just 11-17 overall and tied for last in the Big East standings (2-14) with DePaul. The Bulls did top the Blue Demons last time out to end a 10-game losing streak. South Florida will be on the road against Cincinnati in its regular-season finale on Saturday as it battles for the final spot in the Big East Tournament.
Connecticut has dominated this short-term conference rivalry with a 10-1 edge in the all-time series, including an 8-1 advantage since the Bulls joined the Big East. That includes a 69-64 overtime victory earlier this season.
On Saturday UConn butted heads with Cincinnati but despite a game-high 22 points from Ryan Boatright the Huskies fell, 61-56. Both teams shot below 40 percent from the floor in the contest but the Huskies were outscored 27-6 from 3-point range.
In the loss the Huskies were without leading scorer Shabazz Napier (17.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.6 apg) who was sidelined with a sore right foot. Napier is still listed as questionable for this contest. Boatright (15.3 ppg, 4.4 apg) is an explosive playmaker but has played better in tandem with Napier rather than on his own. Omar Calhoun (11.4 ppg) has played well in the backcourt in his freshman season, while DeAndre Daniels (11.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg) is one of very few commodities in the frontcourt. As a team the Huskies scored a respectable 70.8 points per game while shooting just under 45 percent from the field. However they rank second to last in the league in rebounds (32.8 pg).
In a battle of the worst teams in the Big East, South Florida got past DePaul by shooting 54.4 percent from the field while holding a 27-12 edge from beyond the arc. All five starters scored in double figures for the Bulls led by Toarlyn Fitzpatrick who dumped in 19 points to go with eight rebounds.
There is no secret as to why the Bulls have struggled so much this season. They have been absolutely dreadful offensively ranking at the very bottom of the Big East in points (59.4 pg), assists (11.3 pg) and field goal percentage (.392). The Bulls also struggle on the boards as they are the only team other than UConn that cleans the glass worse (32.3 pg) in the league. Victor Rudd (11.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (10.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg) are the two top scorers on the rosters but neither shoots better than 40 percent from the field. Anthony Collins (9.0 ppg, 6.2 apg) is the primarily ball handler and is behind only Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams in assists in the Big East (6.2 pg).
Though there isn't much to play for as the season closes for the Huskies, they are still a solid team led by a dynamic backcourt. However they will be weakened without Napier, although Boatright and Calhoun are good enough to carry them past the Bulls.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 70, South Florida 64
03/06 10:35:10 ET
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