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Thabeet helps UConn bounce back vs. South Florida

Feb 21, 2009 - 11:36 PM HARTFORD, Connecticut (Ticker) -- Hasheem Thabeet rebounded from his worst game of the season with 21 points, eight rebounds and six blocks as No. 1 Connecticut posted a 64-50 victory over South Florida on Saturday.

A.J. Price added 11 points and Jeff Adrien recorded nine and 15 rebounds for the Huskies (25-2, 13-2 Big East), who were upset by No. 4 Pittsburgh on Monday.

Thabeet was dominated by DaJuan Blair in that game, recording just five points, four rebounds and two blocks before fouling out.

That loss will cost the Huskies the No. 1 ranking. Oklahoma will likely be the new No. 1 when the latest USA Today/ESPN coaches' rankings are released Monday.

"It's always tough when we're coming back from a loss like we had a week ago," Thabeet said. "Everybody was mad and we came back and everybody wanted to win."

South Florida (8-18, 3-11) put up more of a fight than most anticipated.

Playing in its third game without second-leading scorer Jerome Dyson, UConn needed a late 14-4 spurt to put the Bulls away.

"It was a hard bounce-back game, given the pace of the game," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. "A lot of that had to do with their defense. They're fourth or fifth in field-goal percentage defense."

Augustus Gilchrist scored 15 points for South Florida, which used an 11-2 run to pull within 46-40 with 11:53 left.

But Price helped land the knockout blow by scoring five straight points and seven during the pivotal run.

"A.J. had an OK game, but he had the seven points that made the difference and all of a sudden just took the game away," Calhoun said.

"I wanted to get a little more aggressive at that point and try to find my shot a little bit more," Price said. "Kemba (Walker) did a great job of getting me the ball where I could do something with it."

Thabeet was not hampered by the hyper-extended shoulder he suffered in the loss to Pittsburgh. The 7-3 junior blocked five shots in the first half, helping the Huskies limit the Bulls to 29 percent (9-of-31) from the floor.

South Florida missed 13 of its first 14 shots and trailed, 31-20, at halftime. The Bulls have lost four straight overall and fell to 0-7 all-time vs. UConn.

South Florida shot just 21 percent (5-of-24) from 3-point range.

"I told our team before the game, if we wanted to have a chance to really pull off a miracle and an upset against a great team like this, we'd have to knock some threes down," Bulls coach Stan Heath said. "And that was the area we just weren't able to get done."