Feb. 26, 2014
TAMPA, Fla. - University of Connecticut guards Shabazz Napier (Roxbury, Mass.) and Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill.) shrugged off slow starts to lead an 18-0 second-half run that helped UConn come from behind to beat South Florida 61-56 on Wednesday night. The Huskies improve to 22-6 overall and 10-5 in conference play with the win.
Napier scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half. Boatright delivered 11 of 14 during the game-changing surge that turned a nine-point deficit into a 47-38 lead for the Huskies, who beat USF by 43 points in Hartford two weeks ago.
USF (12-16, 3-12) went scoreless for nearly seven minutes while UConn was making its move. The Bulls steadied themselves and gradually climbed back into the game.
Josh Heath made two free throws and a layup to trim UConn's lead to 58-56 with under a minute to go. Napier hit a long 3-pointer with 23.6 seconds remaining to put it out of reach.
Victor Rudd led USF with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Rudd scored eight points and USF overcame a slow start of its own to lead 28-22 at the half, despite shooting just under 36 percent from the field and turning the ball over seven times. The biggest reason was UConn's poor marksmanship (7 for 24, 29.2 percent), with the Huskies' backcourt tandem of Napier and Boatright going 0 for 8 while being limited to a combined five points from the foul line.
UConn senior forward Niels Giffey (Berlin, Germany) made a 3-pointer to begin UConn's big run. Boatright missed his first five shots, but finally got going with a three-point play, followed by a 3-point shot, two free throws and another 3-pointer that finished the 18-0 burst.
Napier, 0 for 4 from the field in the opening half, made three clutch shots down the stretch, beginning with a pair of difficult layups that gave UConn some breathing room after USF pulled within 50-49. His 3-pointer in the closing seconds finished a 6 for 9 second half. Boatright wound up 3 for 11, but made 6 of 7 free throws.
The Huskies return to action this weekend when they host No. 11 Cincinnati Saturday at the XL Center. Tipoff is set for 12 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPN and heard on the UConn IMG Radio Network.