UConn beats UCF to avoid fourth straight losing season

NCAA Basketball
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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP)Isaiah Whaley tied a career-high with 18 points and pulled down nine rebounds to help UConn to an 81-65 win over UCF Wednesday in the American Athletic Conference.

Christian Vital also had 18 points and James Bouknight finished with 16 for the Huskies (16-12, 7-8 American Athletic Conference), who assured themselves of at least a .500 record for the first time in four seasons.

UConn led by just four points at halftime, but broke the game open with a 12-2 run early in the second half.

A Vital drive gave UConn its first double-digit lead at 53-42 and a second-chance dunk by Whaley put the Huskies up 60-43 lead midway through the second half.

A 3-pointer by UCF’s Darin Green Jr. capped a 7-0 run that cut the deficit to 10 points before the Huskies stretched it out again.

Collin Smith had 17 points to lead UCF (14-13, 5-10), which had won three of its previous four games, including victories over AAC leaders Cincinnati and Tulsa. Ceasar DeJesus added 14 points for the Knights.

UConn opened strong. Whaley had two early buckets, UConn scored its first eight points in the lane and jumped out to an 11-4 lead.

Smith hit three shots during a 10-3 run that tied the game and a drive by DeJesus around Vital gave UCF a lead at 18-16.

But the Huskies scored the next nine points, holding UCF off the scoreboard for 3 1/2 minutes.

The Bulls kept the game close and trailed 36-32 at halftime.

The Huskies, led by Whaley, won the game down low, outscoring UCF 48-38 in the paint and outrebounding the Knights 36-28.

BIG PICTURE

UCF: The Knights fell to 4-10 when being held under 71 points. They are 10-3 when scoring more than that.

UConn: Vital moved past Donyell Marshall and Khalid El Amin and into 13th place on the school’s all-time scoring list (1,654). His two 3-pointers extended his American Athletic Conference record to 255.

UP NEXT

UCF: The Knights travel to Tulsa for a rematch on Saturday with a team they upset earlier this month in Florida

UConn: The Huskies visit East Carolina on Saturday for their only scheduled meeting with the Pirates this year and the last one scheduled before the Huskies leave the AAC for the Big East after this season.

More AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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