HARTFORD, Conn. - University of Connecticut redshirt sophomore guard Rodney Purvis (Raleigh, N.C.) scored a career-high 28 points and UConn upset No. 21 SMU, 81-73, on Sunday, knocking the Mustangs out of first place in the American Athletic Conference. The Huskies improved to 17-11 overall and 10-6 in league play with the win.
Freshman guard Daniel Hamilton (Los Angeles, Calif.) scored 14 of his 16 points in the final 7:41, and senior guard Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill.) added 23 points for the defending national champion Huskies, who won for the first time this season against a ranked opponent.
Markus Kennedy had 18 points to lead SMU (23-6, 14-3), which had won five straight, 13 of its past 14 and 21 of its past 23 games.
Yanick Moreira added 14 points, but 12 of them came in the first half.
The Mustangs led only once at 53-51 on a jumper in the lane by Kennedy with 8:10 left.
But Hamilton responded with back-to-back 3-pointers to start a UConn run. He hit a pair of free throws that gave UConn its largest lead at 68-57 with 4 minutes to play.
Kennedy cut the deficit to 71-67 on a jumper with 1:22 left. But UConn hit its free throws down the stretch.
The Huskies shot 53 percent from the floor and made nine of its 20 3-point attempts.
Going into the last week of the regular season, SMU is a half-game behind Tulsa, which beat Memphis in overtime on Saturday. The two teams meet in the regular-season finale on March 8.
UConn, which has won three straight and six of its past eight, and is in fifth place, a game ahead of Memphis, in the league. The top five teams will get first-round byes when the conference tournament opens in Hartford, Connecticut, on March 12.
Purvis scored eight of the Huskies' first 10 points as UConn jumped out to an early 10-4 lead.
A lob pass from Boatright to sophomore center Amida Brimah (Accra, Ghana) put UConn up 24-14, the Huskies' largest lead of the first half, and prompted a timeout from coach Larry Brown.
The Huskies led the entire half, but Moreira cut SMU's deficit to 32-26 with a jump shot at the halftime buzzer. The Huskies are 10-0 when leading at intermission this season.
The Huskies are 11-3 at home and have won their past seven home games.
UConn came into the game 0-4 all-time against SMU, including three times since the founding of the AAC a year ago. The Mustangs' margin of victory had been at least nine points in each of those games, and they beat the Huskies 73-55 in Texas last month.
Boatright (1,689 points) moved in front of Wes Bialosuknia (1,673) and into ninth place on UConn's scoring list, behind Kemba Walker (1,783).
SMU had won a school-record seven consecutive road games, but fell to 8-4 away from home this season.
UConn heads back to campus to host Memphis at Gampel Pavilion before closing the season next Saturday at Temple. The Huskies lost to both teams earlier this season.
SMU has a week off before the showdown at home next Sunday against Tulsa.