basketball Edit

What to watch for: USF at UCONN

USF closes out its short two-game road stretch in Connecticut by facing the Huskies for the second time this season.

Thursday Connecticut was tripped up by Temple in double overtime, 93-89. It was the second loss in its last three games.

The Bulls, who came up short Thursday night against Wichita State, have lost three consecutive games.

Connecticut guard James Bouknight (2) drives against Memphis Tigers guard Damion Baugh at XL Center.
Connecticut guard James Bouknight (2) drives against Memphis Tigers guard Damion Baugh at XL Center. (Photo by: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

RunningTheBulls.com has your quick facts and what to watch for against UConn:

Quick Facts

Matchup: USF (11-15, 4-9 AAC) at Connecticut (14-12, 5-8 AAC)

Date: Sun. February 23

Time: 2 p.m.

Location: Storrs, CT | Gampel Pavilion

Watch: CBS Sports Network

Radio: Bulls Unlimited

History: This will be the final regular season meeting between the Huskies and the Bulls as members of The American. USF won their last contest 75-60 on Jan. 4. UConn leads the all-time series 4-22

The Opponent: In six-plus seasons in The American, Connecticut has compiled a 40-22 (.645) home record in regular-season league play. The Huskies have not lost at home since an OT loss to Tulsa on Jan. 26.

Connecticut is without starters Tyler Polley and Akok Akok. Polley was making 40 percent of his threes when he suffered a knee injury in practice on Jan. 10 and Akok was the AAC’s leading shot blocker by a substantial margin when he ruptured his Achilles tendon in a Feb. 16 game.

UConn likes to push pace and attack defenses with their guards. The Huskies are only shooting 32.6 percent beyond the arc but USF can’t give up ‘dare’ threes while guarding against drives.

Christian Vital, a 6-foot-2 guard leads the Huskies in scoring (14.8 ppg) and is tied for the lead in rebounding (6.5 rpg). He is an aggressive shooter/scorer who is always in attack mode. He will leak out in transition and sprint for spot up threes. Vital is a high motor guy who is an average spot up shooter that is very good in ball screen action. He is also a superb defender.

James Bouknight was named Freshman of the Week on Monday. In the Huskies last five games the 6-foot-4 guard is averaged 19.8 points and made 45 percent of his threes. He is shot ready on kickouts. Bouknight drives it both ways – right for layups, left more for pull-ups. He is a good offensive rebounder and plays for steals on defense.

Alterique Gilbert’s paint touches/penetration hurt USF in the past. The 6-foot guard is excellent at changing speeds and getting defenders off balance. He likes crossovers, hesitation freeze moves and is very quick/fast especially in open court.

At 6-foot-10, 235-pounds Josh Carlton is a strong physical post player. He wants to overpower defenders. Likes the right block mid-post to drive and spin. On left block he likes middle jump hook. UConn screens him into the post. Carlton averages 6.5 rebounds per game (three OREB).

Isaiah Whaley will see more playing time in Akok’s absence. Against Temple Whaley responded with 18 points and 14 rebounds. He is a long, bouncy hard playing post player who is very active on the offensive glass. He will set ball screens to roll or pop. He can hit 17-footers and play off either shoulder in the post.

Defensively UConn plays almost exclusively man (96.8 percent) and they play hard. The Huskies will pick up full court and try to turn you over.

Prediction

USF 58 UConn 67

To win it is crucial that the Bulls play strong transition defense, do a great job of guarding the dribble one-on-one, limit paint touches and win the battle on the glass. Play ball strong on everything. Meet every pass because UCONN plays for steals. Carlton rotates for blocks so OREB will be there.