Thabeet's 21 points help UConn rebound from second loss of season

HARTFORD, Conn. -- It wasn't a bounce-back blowout, but No. 1 Connecticut responded to its second loss of the season by grinding out its 14th win in 15 games.

Hasheem Thabeet had 21 points and nine rebounds as the Huskies beat South Florida 64-50 on Saturday.

The 7-foot-3 junior blocked six shots and showed no ill effects from a hyperextended shoulder when he was flipped by Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair in the Huskies' 76-68 loss on Monday.

A.J. Price had 11 points and Jeff Adrien had nine points and 15 rebounds for UConn (25-2, 13-2 Big East), which reached the 25-win mark for the 11th time in the last 20 years.

"It was one of those games where the ball wasn't falling in the hole offensively, but we still played good defense," Adrien said. "It shouldn't worry us. We just have to play better offensively and score some baskets."

Augustus Gilchrist had 15 points to lead South Florida (8-18, 3-11), while Dominique Jones added 14. The Bulls, who have never beaten UConn in seven tries, lost their fourth straight.

The Huskies, who were playing their third game without injured guard Jerome Dyson, their top outside threat, were just 1-of-7 from 3-point range.

But that 3-pointer, by Price, made it 51-40, and was part of a 14-4 run that put the game out of reach.

"We feel like we can win any style of game, whether it be slow or up-tempo or physical," Price said. "Tonight showed it. The game was played at their pace, but we still prevailed."

The Huskies held South Florida without a point for almost the game's first 6 minutes, and despite hitting just one of their first seven shots, led 9-0 early.

The Bulls made just one of their first 14 shots, but closed the gap to 9-6 when Jones dunked and was fouled by Adrien.

Thabeet had five blocks by halftime and UConn, despite shooting just 31 percent from the field, led 31-20.

"When you are coming off a loss like we had a week ago, it's just hard to catch up," Thabeet said. "Everybody was upset and everybody was down and we just came out and really wanted to win the game, and maybe things were not going well, and we just had to pick it up."

The Huskies held South Florida to 32 percent shooting, 29 percent in the first half.

But South Florida was able to hang with the Huskies, getting as close as 46-40 in the second half on a dunk by Jones, before UConn made its run.

"I was really happy with where we were in that game," South Florida coach Stan Heath said. "You'd love to be in the lead, but six points down and you've got a little momentum after a big play like that. ... They made a run."

Adrien moved into 14th place on the school's all-time scoring list and needs just 16 points to reach the 1,500 mark for his career.

The win capped the Huskies' third week as the nation's top-ranked team, a streak that is likely to end when the new AP poll comes out Monday. The Huskies had won 13 straight before the loss to Pitt.

The Huskies are still battling for a top seed in both the Big East and NCAA tournaments, with games remaining against Marquette (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP)
and Notre Dame, before a rematch with No. 4 Pitt, in Pittsburgh.

"We've ordered the shoulder pads and helmets," UConn coach Jim Calhoun joked.

The win was the 799th for Calhoun. He will get a chance for No. 800 on Wednesday at Marquette.