HARTFORD, Conn. - The UConn men's basketball team (17-13, 10-8 American) opens play in the 2015 American Athletic Men's Basketball Tournament on Thursday (8 p.m.) against South Florida (9-22, 3-15) at the XL Center in Hartford. The game will be broadcasted by ESPNews, and it can also be heard live on the UConn IMG Radio Network.
The sixth-seeded Huskies, who won six of their seven games played in Hartford this season, enter this year's championship with an overall mark of 38-27 (.587) in conference tournament competition. UConn fell to Louisville in the finals of the inaugural American Athletic Men's Basketball Tournament last season, and Connecticut sports a record of 28-10 all-time in postseason conference games where they're the higher seed. The Bulls are the No. 11 seed in this year's tournament.
Connecticut fell to Temple, 75-63, in its regular season finale on Saturday despite a game-high 25 points from senior guard Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill.). Redshirt sophomore guard Rodney Purvis (Raleigh, N.C.) chipped in 18 points, while guards Daniel Hamilton (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Omar Calhoun (Brooklyn, N.Y.) each added four assists. Boatright scored 22 of his 25 points in the first half for the Huskies, who finished the regular season 4-7 on the road.
UConn shot 45.5 percent from the floor against the Owls and finished the game 17-20 from the free throw line. Three Temple players finished in double-figures, including guard Will Cummings, who tallied 23 points in the win. Center Amida Brimah (Accra, Ghana) led the charge on the defensive end, recording five blocks in 28 minutes of action. The sophomore standout totaled at least five blocks in nine games for the Huskies this year and finished the season ranked No. 3 among Division I players with 3.37 blocks per game.
The Bulls rounded out the regular season with a 67-63 home loss to Tulane on Saturday. USF has lost 14 of its previous 16 games, ending conference play ranked last in the league in scoring offense (56.7) and 10th in scoring defense (66.6). South Florida sports a record of 1-12 on the road this season, with its one victory coming against UAB back on Nov. 20, 2014.
Guard Troy Holston Jr. has emerged as a scoring threat for the Bulls in the absence of leading scorer Corey Allen Jr. The junior guard has averaged 20.7 points and 7.0 rebounds over South Florida's last three games, and he is one of three USF players with at least 35 3-pointers on the year. Junior Anthony Collins leads all Bulls with 164 assists, and his 5.3 assists per game is tied with SMU's Nic Moore for the most among conference players this year.
Connecticut boasts an all-time record of 14-2 against the Bulls, and the Huskies are a perfect 6-0 at home against USF. UConn's two wins over the Bulls this season have come by an average margin of 13.5 points. Thursday will be the fifth meeting between the two at the XL Center.
The winner of UConn and USF will face Cincinnati in the American Athletic Quarterfinals on Friday (9 p.m.) on ESPNU. The Huskies split games against the Bearcats this season.