Connecticut is probably happier than most college basketball teams that its next game is at home.
The 18th-ranked Huskies look to bounce back from their first loss when they meet South Florida on Tuesday at the Hartford Civic Center in their Big East home opener.
UConn (11-1, 0-1) did not leave home during its 11-0 start, playing all of its games in Hartford or at Gampel Pavilion on campus in Storrs.
The Huskies did not look nearly as good in their first game in an unfriendly environment as they fell 81-71 at West Virginia on Saturday. They trailed by as many as 17 points and found the competition in the Big East to be far different than recent home victories over the likes of Pepperdine and Coppin State.
“To jump into an environment like this, it was tough,” Huskies guard Doug Wiggins said.
UConn could not solve the Mountaineers’ 1-3-1 zone and ended up shooting 39.4 percent—its lowest effort since a season-opening 53-46 victory over Quinnipiac on Nov. 10.
The Huskies had risen to No. 12 in the rankings despite having five new starters. They showed their inexperience Saturday, making just 13-of-27 at the foul line and 6-of-19 from 3-point range.
“The 1-3-1 looked like a Rubik’s cube to us,” UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. “We were impatient. We couldn’t make any 3-pointers. And when we got the ball in the paint, we didn’t finish plays.”
Calhoun’s squad will step out of conference play and back on the road Saturday to face No. 14 LSU.
UConn has won by an average of nearly 30 points per game at home. The Huskies have won their six games at Hartford by an average of 25.5 points this season.
This is the fifth meeting between UConn and South Florida (9-5, 0-0) and the second in Big East play. The Huskies won 66-53 last season on the road to improve to 4-0 in the series.
South Florida won just one conference game last season in its first year in the Big East. It beat Georgetown in the season finale.
The Bulls, however, have more experience on the road than the Huskies this season. South Florida, which also visits No. 10 Pittsburgh on Saturday, has split four road games this season.
The game will feature two of the top shot blockers in the country in South Florida’s McHugh Mattis and UConn freshman Hasheem Thabeet. Both players are averaging 4.2 blocks per game to tie for fourth place in Division I.
The Bulls have won two straight after an 82-49 victory over Bethune-Cookman on Sunday. It marked the largest margin of victory for South Florida under fourth-year coach Robert McCullum.
Freshman Solomon Bozeman scored a season-high 24 points, making four 3-pointers and 12 foul shots. Bozeman averages 14.0 points to rank second on the team behind senior forward Melvin Buckley, who scores 16.9 per game.