DALLAS – The idea that injuries can end a team's dream is not theoretical.
Duke's chance of winning the national championship is now greatly diminished by the loss of both starting guards, Chelsea Gray and Alexis Jones to season-ending knee injuries.
That's why UConn understands it must tread lightly because of its lack of depth, even when Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis returns. And now some of the bubble wrap is around sophomore guard Moriah Jefferson.
A few days before UConn's home game against UCF on Feb. 19, Jefferson reported some soreness. Auriemma spoke of it then after she played just 16 minutes in a 25-point win.
"The one thing I need to be careful with, and conscious of is when you practice a lot, an hour and hour-and-a-half, I need to remember they've been working since Sept. 10," Auriemma said. "That's a long time to take a pounding on your feet, your legs and knees. So any time I get a chance to rest them …"
Jefferson, who is now wearing a walking boot on her right foot, played 31 minutes at Houston on Saturday and had a solid game.
"I'm not going to say that I don't feel a little banged up, but it's nothing too serious," Jefferson said. "I have a couple of issues with my feet, but other than that I am fine.
Jefferson came out of Tuesday's win after 32 minutes with nine points, five rebounds and five assists. She also had just one turnover and two steals.
"The big guys don't take as much a pounding as the guards do. They cover a lot of ground. So with Brianna Banks back, I thought it would be a good time to rest Moriah.
"It's really nothing with her, she's just precautionary."
Jefferson's game at SMU was special to her. She grew up about 25 minutes from the campus.
"It's exciting to play in front of family and friends, people you don't get a chance to see too often. But I try to be focused and prepared for every game we play," Jefferson said. "This is just another road game."
Jefferson is aware of her importance and how she must balance aggressiveness with care as they team moves forward.
"When you are as small as I am, you get banged around a lot more than other players do," she said. "Playing 40 minutes in games can be a little tiring, but I am OK and ready for it … Rest, massages and try to stay out of the lane so you don't get hit so much."
The Huskies blocked eight shots Tuesday to tie the single-season program record of 250 set by the 1994-95 national champions. UConn's 35th straight win ties it for third with the wire-to-wire 35-0 season put together by its first national champion in 1994-95. That streak was snapped by Louisiana Tech in the first game of the 1995-96 season. The only two streaks ahead of it are the 70-gamer from Nov. 9, 2001 to March 11, 2003 and the NCAA Division I record 90-game run that stretched from Nov. 16, 2008 to Dec. 30, 2010. … Bria Hartley, named to the Lieberman watch list as the nation's top point guard, came into Tuesday's game averaging 20.0 points and shooting 55.7 percent from the field in the 10 previous games. She scored a game-high 25, was 7 of 11 from the field and 5-for-5 from three. Hartley's next goal on the all-time scoring list (she has 1,827) is Svetlana Abrosimova (1,865) in ninth … If UConn wins Saturday against Rutgers, it will be its ninth straight year with at least 30 wins and its 19th in the past 21 seasons. …. The Huskies came in having trailed for 30 minutes, 25 seconds in their first 1,080 minutes. They added another 1:16 to ledger in the first half. … Not only is Stefanie Dolson (994) approaching 1,000 career rebounds, she is in reach of UConn's single-season record of 372 set by Tina Charles in 2009-10. Dolson now has 278 for the season …. Former UConn and Connecticut Sun star Tamika Williams, who now lives the Dallas area, was at the game and attended the team's pregame shoot-around. She runs her own insurance agency and travels extensively for charitable causes.