HARTFORD, Conn. — It appeared USF was in the wrong place at the wrong time on Saturday. The Bulls have struggled on the road all season and they were catching No. 1 Connecticut coming off a loss to Pittsburgh.
But USF played at a pace of its liking. The Bulls defended hard. They competed on the boards. But they didn't shoot well enough from the perimeter to pull off the upset.
Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut's 7-foot-3 center, had 21 points, nine rebounds and six blocks as the Huskies topped USF 64-50 in front of 15,451.
"I think we played better as team," USF guard Chris Howard said. "We stuck to the game plan, and we executed. But the key is to get a W, not to play 40 minutes and fall short and say, 'Oh, we hung in there and played with them.' "
Gus Gilchrist led the Bulls (8-18, 3-11 Big East) with 15 points. Dominique Jones added 14, shooting 5-for-18. Howard scored 11 on 5-for-17 shooting and had team highs of eight rebounds and eight assists.
Jones has 999 career points. The sophomore guard goes for 1,000 Wednesday at Seton Hall.
"Something to look forward to," Jones said with a smile.
The Bulls, who were missing second-leading scorer Jesus Verdejo (injured heel), started 1-for-15 shooting and finished at 32.3 percent.
"I thought Gus stepped up for us, Chris controlled the tempo, and 'Nique had some flashes," coach Stan Heath said. "Defensively we did an unbelievable job. We kept some terrific players under control. The guy we didn't have an answer for was Thabeet. He's just a different guy out there. He causes so many different problems."
The Huskies (25-2, 13-2) never trailed in their first game since a 76-68 loss to Pittsburgh on Monday. They scored the first nine and led 31-20 at halftime but did not look comfortable.
"It was a difficult game to bounce back because you want to get back into the fray and get going," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. "And all of a sudden they're taking 25 seconds off the shot clock."
With 11:50 left a dunk by Jones pulled the Bulls within 46-40. But USF was scoreless for the next 4:39, falling to 1-9 on the road.
CALHOUN ANGRY: Calhoun tried to joke after the game when freelance journalist and political activist Ken Krayeske asked about his $1.6 million salary and the state's budget deficit, then got angry. "My best advice to you is, shut up,'' Calhoun said. "Get some facts and come back and see me. We turn over $12 million to the University of Connecticut.''
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.