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No. 2 UConn slips past South Florida despite poor shooting

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun tipped his hat
to Robert McCullum, his counterpart at South Florida.

The second-ranked Huskies (26-2, 13-2 Big East) outmanned South
Florida on Wednesday night, but didn't outplay the Bulls in a 66-53
victory that moved Calhoun into a tie with Jerry Tarkanian for 14th
place on the career wins list with 729.

South Florida (6-22, 0-15) has lost a school-record 17 straight
and remained winless against conference opponents in its first
season in the Big East.

"We just have superior numbers of people. Not even superior
people because Robert gets them to play as well as any guy in this
league," said Calhoun, who is 481-174 in 20 seasons at UConn.
"What he's done is instill, in my opinion, a work ethic that's as
good as any team in our league and almost any league in the
country."

Josh Boone scored 17 points and Denham Brown added 16 for the
Huskies, who squandered most of a double-digit lead built by
scoring the first 18 points of the game. They avoided a total
collapse with Boone delivering a key basket to help them pull away
after South Florida pulled within three midway through the second
half.

The Huskies prevailed despite shooting 35.5 percent in the first
half and 36.1 percent for the game, including 2-for-17 from 3-point
range. Rudy Gay joined Brown and Boone, who had 15 rebounds, in
double figures with 10 points.

Rather than make excuses, Calhoun and his players complimented
South Florida's defense.

"That's definitely the strength of their team. They force you
out of your offense, they bump you on all your cuts and front you
in the post," Boone said. "They never give up. They fight you for
everything."

Eight of the Bulls' conference losses have been by seven or
fewer points, including a 49-46 loss to No. 4 Villanova at home on
Jan. 24.

And even though the Bulls came up short again, they demonstrated
why they've been troublesome for so many opponents by twice
trimming 18-point deficits to single digits after UConn began each
half strong.

Solomon Jones, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds, led a 24-9 run
that pulled South Florida within 45-42. UConn took control for good
when Boone's layup started a burst that quickly restored to lead to
55-45.

"We talk to them about how well they've fared against the best
teams in the league ... trying to create positive thoughts,"
McCullum said. "Along with that, we did tell them point blank how
important it is to get off to a good start. Obviously, we didn't do
that."

Brown scored a career-high 23 to pace UConn's 14-point victory
over Villanova on Sunday, and he was instrumental again this time
with 13 points during a first half that saw the other offensive
star from last weekend struggle.

Rashad Anderson, who came off the bench to score 17 against
Villanova, couldn't buy a basket in what essentially was a
homecoming for the senior from nearby Lakeland. He missed all six
of his shots in the opening half and finished 1-for-8, although the
lone basket he made -- a 3-pointer in the closing minutes -- helped
the Huskies seal the game.

"Rashad wanted to be so good tonight, and of all guys who I
thought wanted the limelight at home, it's really unfortunate he
didn't have the kind of game he's capable of having," Calhoun
said. "He's a terrific basketball player ... the best sixth man in
college basketball."

James Holmes led South Florida with 14 points.