UConn men’s basketball team survived a conference tournament opening round match-up with South Florida on Thursday night in Hartford.
Because they’ve lost more games than they’ve won, the Huskies have to win the American Athletic Conference to make it to the NCAA Division I tournament. They made the first step toward that goal by beating South Florida 77-66 at the XL Center.
This could have been the final game for senior Rodney Purvis. But he said he tried not to think about it -- and he scored a career-high 30 points.
"Coming into the game knowing that this could be my last game was definitely not in the back of my mind," he said. "I just knew what was at stake and we just locked in as a team."
UConn already beat USF twice earlier in the year -- and done so easily. They won by 21 points in January and then beat the Bulls by 46 two weeks later in Hartford.
But this time, the Huskies were up by just four points with 55 seconds remaining. They were able to hold on to their lead and advance. After the game, UConn coach Kevin Ollie said the team would have to do better -- and stop turning the ball over -- in order to win Friday's quarterfinal match-up versus Houston.
"Rebound and transition," Ollie said. "We can’t play like this and expect to advance."
The Huskies lost to Houston twice in the regular season. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:00 pm in Hartford.