|College Basketball Odds: Connecticut at South Florida Spread, Preview & Public Picks|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Saturday, 16 February 2008 03:41|
UCONN Goes For No. 9
A.J. Price looks for another strong game on offense, Hasheem Thabeet tries to maintain his impressive play defensively and Connecticut goes for a ninth straight win on Saturday in a Big East matchup at lowly South Florida.
Price scored 26 points and Thabeet blocked six shots to lift the 17th-ranked Huskies (19-5, 8-3) to an 84-78 win over No. 20 Notre Dame on Wednesday. Thabeet keyed UConn holding the Irish to 33 percent from the field in the second half.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Connecticut -6 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 65% of bets for this game have been placed on Connecticut -6 (View College Basketball bet percentages).
It was the eighth straight win for the Huskies, who have moved into a tie with Notre Dame for third place in the conference, one game behind 23rd-ranked Louisville and 1 1/2 back of No. 8 Georgetown.
"I don't know what it's going to take to beat us, and I hope no team figures it out," said Price, who also had a career-high nine assists for the sixth time this season.
The junior guard has averaged 19.0 points over the last five games, raising his team-leading average to 15.0 for the season. Price's 6.1 assists per game tie him with the Irish's Tory Jackson for the league lead.
"I think he has been a key to their run, how he is stirring the drink so to speak," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said of Price.
With Price powering the offense, Thabeet is the lynch-pin of the Huskies' outstanding defense, which holds opponents to 37.7 percent from the field to tie Louisville for second in the conference behind Georgetown (35.3).
The 7-foot-3 Thabeet has blocked 24 shots in the last four games to give him 99 on the season, second in the nation to Jarvis Varnado (111) of Mississippi State. Thabeet also has averaged 10.0 rebounds in the last four games.
Half of the victories on UConn's current eight-game win streak have come against ranked opponents, though the Huskies are not scheduled to face another one over their final seven games.
"Each game that we win gives us more confidence as the season goes along," said Connecticut guard Doug Wiggins. "I think we finally learned how to win. We tell ourselves when we go on the court that we're going to win the game no matter what happens."
Thabeet had five blocks in the last meeting with South Florida on Jan. 2, 2007, a 69-50 home victory.
That was Connecticut's fifth consecutive win over the Bulls (11-14, 2-10), with two coming in conference play by an average of 16.0 points.
South Florida is hoping to snap that slide and after ending its season-high 10-game losing streak with a stunning 89-78 win over Syracuse on Wednesday.
"It's good to see them in the locker room smiling," USF coach Stan Heath said. "I want them to continue to achieve victories because that's what we play for."
The Bulls, though, have never won consecutive Big East games since joining the conference in 2005-06. They last won back-to-back league games from Feb. 2-5, 2005, as a member of Conference USA.
Dominique Jones scored 29 points in Wednesday's win and is second on the Bulls with 16.1 points per game.
Kentrell Gransberry, South Florida's leader with 16.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game, had 23 points and nine boards versus Syracuse. The senior center will find himself matched up against Thabeet, giving up six inches in height.
Gransberry had 12 points and four rebounds opposite him in the last meeting.
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