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Preview: No. 3 UConn eyes 27th consecutive win against South Florida

UConn looks to continue its command of a 26-0 all-time record against USF since 2006.

NCAA Womens Basketball: AAC Conference Tournament-USF vs Connecticut
Katie Lou Samuelson and the Huskies hope to tackle a stat-depleted USF Bulls team on Jan. 13.
Photo by: David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports

The Huskies’ 26-0 record against South Florida is UConn’s best against any opponent in program history in terms of games played and winning percentage. Right behind the Bulls is another team that shares a mascot of similar bull-ish taste, the Hoyas of Georgetown, who have been victimized by UConn 45 of 51 times.

Five of UConn’s best all-time records

(Minimum 26 games played and winning percentage of 80 percent or better)

  1. 26-0 vs. South Florida
  2. 45-6 (88.2 percent) vs. Georgetown
  3. 34-6 (85 percent) vs. Rutgers
  4. 50-10 (83.3 percent) vs. Seton Hall
  5. 41-9 (82 percent) vs. Pitt

At the moment, UConn’s “Bash Brothers” — Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson — are in control of the reins on both ends of the court, but under-the-radar players, like Megan Walker and Kyla Irwin, could take a grip of the spotlight on their own terms on Sunday afternoon. Then there’s always Crystal Dangerfield, who averaged 32 minutes over the last three games against USF and walked away with more assists (13) than points per game (8.6) in those contests.

UConn Huskies vs. USF Bulls: The last three meetings

Mar. 6, 2018

UConn 70 - 54 USF

Three USF players played the entire 40 minutes, but scored a combined 20 points, while UConn converted 54 percent of its shots in the second half.

Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson: 24 points, 9 rebounds

Feb. 26, 2018

UConn 82 - 53 USF

Despite 3 players scoring over double digits and 4 players with over 6 rebounds, USF allowed 50 points to UConn in the first half.

UConn: 29 points off turnovers, 25 points from the bench

Gabby Williams: 18 points, 9 assists

Jan. 6, 2018

UConn 100 - 49 USF

UConn’s defense allowed only 20 points in the first half, then led by as much as 52 in the fourth quarter.

UConn: 33 points in the paint, 25 second chance points

Napheesa Collier: 25 points, 11 rebounds

What’s in store in Storrs against USF on Sunday?

USF loves threes just as much as UConn

Over the course of 16 games played, USF has attempted 37 more threes than UConn, but, in comparison to the Huskies, they make fewer of them.

For the Huskies, Katie Lou Samuelson obviously has a lot to do with that success. Not only does she wear No. 33 and likes shooting threes, but she also accounts for 33.4 percent of UConn’s 302 three-point attempts (Crystal Dangerfield is second with 80 of 302 of UConn’s three-point attempts).

USF is a little more spread out in this area in terms of attempts — three players have attemped over 70 threes (Laura Ferreira with 76, Sydni Harvey with 72, Enna Pehadzic with 71). The Bulls’ most recent game against Central Florida saw Pehadzic making 4-of-14 in triples — numbers that are somewhat reminiscent of Samuelson’s 5-for-10 stat line against Cincinnati on Jan. 9.

Transition defense could be the difference

Against Cincinnati, the Huskies returned to old-school form in setting the tempo. Not only did UConn manage to keep the Bearcats under 20 points in the first half, but they also forced 20 turnovers, which resulted in 25 points for a very nostalgic UConn team. Against Houston, the same feat was achieved — 21 points off 18 turnovers, in addition to 16 fast break points.

On the other hand, South Florida is very good at forcing turnovers (42 over its last three games) and they have capitalized just as much as UConn has since the Huskies’ loss to Baylor. During its game against Temple, USF took advantage of 18 forced turnovers, turning those into 20 points. One weakness, however, to USF’s transition defense is turning defense into offense on fast breaks, which UConn demonstrated very finely against Houston and Cincy.

Of its 13-man roster, USF has 8 players from overseas

Like season-opening opponent Ohio State, who was composed primarily of transfers from other schools, UConn will face a very diverse group in USF:

Latvia — Luize Septe, Kitija Laksa, Janeta Rozentale

Portugal — Laura Ferreira, Beatriz Jordao

Denmark — Enna Pedhazic

Italy — Elisa Pinzan

Spain — Silvia Serrat

Of those eight foreign-born players, Ferreira is the most productive in terms of stats, but she won’t be available against UConn. However, she does lead the team in points scored (237) and assists (60), and is the runner-up in three-point percentage (39.5 percent). Like Ferreira, Laksa experiences the most on-court time with 30 minutes per game with Septe, a newcomer to Tampa, not too far behind (21.1 minutes).

Game information

No. 3 UConn Huskies (13-1, 2-0) vs. USF Bulls (10-6, 1-1)

When: Sunday, Jan. 13, at 1 p.m. ET

Where: Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, CT

How to tune in: ESPN, 97-9 ESPN

Injury report: For USF, Beatriz Jordao (leg), Kitija Laksa (torn ACL) and Laura Ferreira (illness); no injuries to report for UConn