TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Connecticut's Jalen Adams had 20 points and matched a career-best with 12 assists, yet the sophomore guard was proudest of the way he and the Huskies played without the ball against South Florida.
''It started on the defensive end,'' Adams said after keying a second-half burst that enabled his team to even its record in the American Athletic Conference with an 81-60 victory that was a lot closer than the final score suggested Wednesday night.
''We picked up the pressure. Got a couple traps, got a couple steals,'' Adams added. ''After that, everything just started clicking. We started making 3's, and that's what helped us separate the game.''
''I think it's heart. We needed to win this game. We all stuck together out there,'' Vital said. ''They made their run ... and we just stuck with it. We just said: `That was their best punch, now let's go give them ours.' "
USF (6-13, 0-8), which has lost eight straight, rallied from an early 10-point deficit to lead 44-43 before Vance Jackson made a pair of free throws and followed with a long 3-pointer to begin UConn's decisive surge.
''That's the discouraging part,'' USF interim coach Murry Bartow said. ''We're good enough to compete with people. But when the game starts getting away, we've got to show a little more resilience than we've shown.''
The Huskies played just six players, and five of them finished in double-figures scoring. Jackson and Kentan Facey each had 12 points, and UConn shot a season-best 60 percent from beyond the 3-point arc, going 12 for 20.
''They don't have a deep bench, but they've got six players who can really play,'' Bartow said.
''Everybody is playing well. They're sharing the basketball, staying connected, which is our main goal, and that basketball is just moving,'' UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. ''It's hard to guard when you've got five people in constant movement.''
Troy Holston led USF with 15 points. Michael Bibby added 14 and Tulio Da Silva had 12 for the Bulls, who kept it close for a while with some 3-point shooting of their own.
The Huskies have won four of six, two straight coming off consecutive road losses at Georgetown and SMU. Adams had his fourth double-double of the season, and Vital gave them a spark by making five of six 3-point shots. UConn improved to 17-2 all-time against USF.
The Huskies return home to face Tulane on Saturday. The Green Wave's lone conference victory in over USF.