TAMPA, FLA. (AP) UConn coach Dan Hurley saw the Huskies go from a big lead to another second-half meltdown. Laquincy Rideau had 25 points, David Collins overcame foul trouble to add 17 key second-half points, and South Florida battled back from a double-digit deficit to beat UConn 76-68 Wednesday night in the American Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
The Huskies (9-5) were looking to rebound after an 81-58 loss to defending national champion Villanova on Dec. 22. UConn led in that game 36-35 with 17 minutes left.
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“Disheartening performance, just a real disappointing effort,” Hurley said. “A long way to go.”
USF (12-2) also got 12 points from Alexis Yetna in its seventh consecutive victory. It’s the Bulls’ first seven-game winning streak since 2007-08, and their most wins in a season since 2013-14 (12).
“It’s a good step for us and it’s just one step,” USF coach Brian Gregory said. “Timely resurgence of David Collins in the second half.”
South Florida trailed by 13 with 2:20 left in the first half, but eventually took the lead at 41-40 when Collins made a layup with 12 ½ minutes remaining. His bucket capped a series in which he made one free throw then rebounded his own missed free throw to keep the Bulls in possession.
“If you go back to the Villanova game, that’s like nine (opponent rebounds after a missed free throw) in the last game and a half,” Hurley said. “That’s a sign of a team that’s not focused, not locked in.”
“Just inexcusable,” Hurley added. “Obviously a terrible reflection of how I prepared this particular team for this particular game.”
Collins’ trey made it 57-48 with 6 minutes left.
“We’re not here to be last (place) anymore,” Collins said.
Jalen Adams had a layup and connected on two free throws, cutting the deficit to 66-62 with 1:25 to go.
Collins, who entered as the Bulls leading scorer at 13.9 points, helped secure the win with four free throws in the final minute.
Jalen Adams led UConn with 25 points and Christian Vital added 16.
Adams had 11 points as UConn took a 33-25 halftime lead.
Collins went to the bench 2:10 into the game after picking up his second foul. The Bulls were outscored 19-11 without the guard and trailed 23-13 when he returned with just under nine minutes left in the first half.
Collins played six minutes in the opening half and sat for several minutes early on in the second after getting his third foul.
UConn: The Huskies had won 10 in a row and 20 of 22 against USF.
South Florida: The Bulls converted just 6 of 15 first-half free throws (40 percent). USF went 23 for 31 (74.2 percent) from the line in the second half.
UConn: Hosts Central Florida on Saturday.
South Florida: Plays Saturday night at Tulsa.