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Post-game breakdown, video: South Florida

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: theday.com

Published 02/03/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 02/03/2013 09:05 PM

Nothing seems to discourage this UConn basketball team.

The Huskies just keep fighting through adversity.

Take Sunday’s Big East game.

They shot a season-low 30 percent and still managed to pull out a 69-64 overtime victory over South Florida at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs.

“Every game, we’re finding different ways,” coach Kevin Ollie said.

Here’s a post-game breakdown:

-- UConn stands at 15-5 overall, 5-3 in the Big East. The Huskies have won three in a row after a season-high two game losing streak.

It was their second straight overtime win. They beat Providence, 82-79, Thursday.

They improved to 3-1 in overtime games this season.

-- Check out the attached video of Ollie's post-game press conference.

 -- The Huskies played their worst first half this season, trailing 27-15 at the break. They had no energy. They were in an offensive fog, converting only five of 27 shots. They scored their lowest point total since trailing UMass, 30-9, in December 2002.

“We didn’t have any energy, any passion,” junior Tyler Olander said. “We were just kind of going through the motions.”

But, like they did against UMass, they rallied to win. They attacked in the second half, opening with a 15-2 run to take the lead.

“When we started putting forth effort, things started to come together for us,” sophomore Ryan Boatright said.

 -- Foul shooting was one difference. UConn went 26-for-33, including 24-for-28 after halftime, from the line. South Florida was 14-for-17.

 -- UConn played solid defense, limiting South Florida to 34.9 percent from the field. The offensively-challenged Bulls came in shooting 37.7 percent in Big East games.

“The defense was wonderful again,” Ollie said.

-- Junior Shabazz Napier has been UConn’s Mr. Clutch this season.

He scored 11 of his 24 points in overtime, including three straight 3-pointers to start the extra session.

He gave credit to his teammates.

“I just feel like (my teammates) give me the chance to take the shots,” Napier said. “I’m willing to do it make or miss. They keep giving me confidence.”

Napier had an impressive all-around game, finishing with team highs in points, rebounds (8), assists (4) and steals (3) while playing 24 minutes. He had 20 of his points after halftime.

“Napier, especially in the second half, was fantastic,”South Florida coach Stan Heath said.

 -- Napier went 7-for-14 from the field overall while the rest of the team converted just 10-for-43,

 -- It was a tough shooting game for starters DeAndre Daniels (2-for-10, 6 points), Omar Calhoun (1-for-8, 7 points) and Boatright (3-for-11, 17 points).

Daniels had a career-high four blocks before fouling out.

 -- Of course, the Huskies lost the battle of the boards (43-41) against a team that ranks last in rebounding margin in the Big East.

 -- Freshman Leon Tolksdorf made a rare appearance, playing eight minutes. He had not played in seven of the last eight games.

Tolksdorf hit his first shot – a 3-pointer from the corner – and finished 1-for-3 from the field.

“He deserves some minutes...,” Ollie said. “He’s just plays hard and I love the kid.”

 -- Ollie on the win: “At the end of the day, they started believing in each other, believing in the coaching staff, and they got it done.”

 -- Prior to the game, UConn honored Napier, R.J. Evans of Salem, Niels Giffey and Leon Tolksdorf for scoring a 3.0 grade point average or better in the first semester.

-- Up next: UConn visits St. John’s Wednesday.

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