HARTFORD, Conn. (AP)—Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun had to make sure Jeff Adrien didn’t play against South Florida the way he did against West Virginia so he kept yelling at him to jump.
The sophomore forward responded by getting 16 points and 15 rebounds as the 18th-ranked Huskies dominated South Florida 69-50 on Tuesday night to extend their home winning streak to 31 games.
Calhoun said the key to the game was creating space for Adrien, who scored just seven points in the Huskies’ first loss of the season last Saturday.
“I’m not going to say he got off his feet, but he played terrific basketball,” Calhoun said. “Bottom line, I really think we just adjusted, adapted and reacted to what was a very tough loss at West Virginia.”
Jerome Dyson had 16 points for UConn (12-1, 1-1 Big East), which broke from a 14-point halftime lead with an 11-0 run. South Florida (9-6, 0-1) didn’t make a field goal in the second half until Melvin Buckley hit a 3-pointer with 14:25 left that made it 50-28.
UConn went up 57-32 when 7-foot-3 freshman Hasheem Thabeet blocked a shot and sparked a fast break that ended when A.J. Price found Stanley Robinson for a two-handed slam.
“They took momentum into the locker room at halftime, then they came out and just really separated themselves,” South Florida coach Robert McCullum said. “Any chance we had of getting back in it was really gone after that point.”
Buckley led the Bulls with 17 points.
UConn went underneath early to Adrien, who had nine points and nine of his 15 rebounds in the first half. But the Huskies began pulling away after going to a three-guard lineup.
Freshman guard Doug Wiggins came off the bench with UConn leading 8-7 five minutes into the game and immediately hit a 3-pointer and then a jumper. He was 4-of-6 from the field in the half, scoring all nine of his points.
“That three-guard lineup, our job out there is to just speed the game up and make it more difficult for them to get into their offense,” Price said. “And on our end, it’s to make it a more speedy-paced game. It really turns the tempo of the game up.”
Dyson and Craig Austrie both had two 3-pointers to help UConn take a 39-25 halftime lead.
Austrie had nine points, and UConn’s bench outscored South Florida’s 22-0.
The Huskies were 7-of-14 from behind the arc and had 17 second-chance points. They outrebounded South Florida 38-23.
The Bulls shot 55 percent from the field in the first half, but hit just 35 percent over the final 20 minutes.
“You got a 7-3 kid in there, and that’s going to disrupt a lot of things you want to do going to the basket,” Buckley said. “It’s just a tough position to be in when you’re going to the post.”
South Florida’s McHugh Mattis, leading the conference in blocked shots, had five, while Thabeet had five for UConn.
Thabeet left the game with 7:41 to go when he was brought down hard by Kentrell Gransberry while going up for a layup. Thabeet remained on the floor for several minutes before being helped to the locker room, but came back into the game later in the half.
Calhoun earned his 745th victory and needs two more to pass Phog Allen for 12th place on the NCAA Division I list. Three more victories will give him 500 at Connecticut.
The Huskies travel to No. 14 LSU on Saturday, and also have games against No. 15 Marquette, No. 10 Pittsburgh and Indiana coming up.
“It’s not a long season, and I knew we can’t give away a home game to a team that I thought we were a little better than,” Calhoun said.