— Junior Hasheem Thabeet
(Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania) scored 15 points to lead four teammates in double-figures while the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team used some sizzling shooting in the second half as the second-ranked Huskies routed Rutgers, 80-49, Saturday evening before a sellout crowd of 10,167 at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion.
The Huskies are now 12-1 on the season and have leveled their BIG EAST mark at 1-1. The Scarlet Knights drop to 9-6, 0-2 in the conference.
UConn played the second half without head coach Jim Calhoun, who took ill at intermission. Calhoun was credited with his 786th career victory, tying him with Lefty Driesell for seventh on the all-time Division I coaching win list.
The Huskies struggled with the Scarlet Knights at the outset, leading just 23-16 with 3:21 to play before halftime. However, junior Stanley Robinson (Birmingham, Ala.), making his first start of the season, dunked a missed shot by senior A.J. Price (Amityville, N.Y.), starting a run that would last through the end of the game that saw the Huskies make 21 of their last 30 shots (70 percent) from the field.
Thabeet led the Huskies with his 15 points and a game-high eight rebounds in the contest. Fellow front courters senior Jeff Adrien (Brookline, Mass.) and Robinson also had big games for Connecticut. Adrien had 13 points and seven rebounds, while Robinson had a tremendous all-around game with 11 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a game-best three blocks. Adrien now has 1,299 points and 885 rebounds in his career at Connecticut, good for 23rd-best on the scoring list and eighth-best on the rebounding list. Reserve junior Gavin Edwards (Gilbert, Ariz.) came off of the bench to score 10 points.
Junior Jerome Dyson (Rockville, Md.) had an off-shooting night (making just three of 11 attempts), but scored 14 points and had four assists. Price had a game-high seven assists against just one turnover. The Huskies had 21 assists on 28 made field goals, and committed just six turnovers. Connecticut played a turnover-free opening twenty minutes.
The Huskies shot 52 percent from the field, the seventh time this season they had made at least half of their field goal attempts. Connecticut enjoyed a 42-20 advantage in points in the paint, 20-6 in points off turnovers and 21-6 in fast break points.
Rutgers freshman Gregory Echenique had a game-high 17 points, while Scarlet Knight leading scorer Mike Rosario had 13 points despite shooting just 2-of-13 from the field.
The Huskies will now take to the road for a three-game road trip that will commence on Tuesday, January 6 when they venture to Morgantown, W.V. to play the Mountaineers. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. and the contest will be televised-nationally by ESPNU.
Post Game Quotes
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I thought we played incredible defense in the first half….The bigs were good inside. We just didn’t run any offense in the first half. We were sluggish again, we couldn’t get into plays.
At halftime (Coach Calhoun) talked a lot about pushing the ball on the break, and I thought A.J. did a tremendous job of that in the second half. He really got the ball up the court very quickly, and if we had something we went to it. If we didn’t, we ran a play. We tried to go inside a lot – both Hasheem and Jeff were very, very good. Gavin ran the court and got some dunks.
Defensively, it was where it is. Twenty-eight percent is phenomenal.
As the lead kept growing, we just kept saying “let’s keep the pressure on, keep running, keep playing a good solid defense.”
On Stanley Robinson
He just changes us. Stanley Robinson changes us from a small team to a big team. Some of the athletic plays that he makes are spectacular.
Like all teams, they have to be reminded of everything all the time….Every team is different. This team gets settled when things are going good, generally. That’s why you have to make them play harder and pay more attention. And they really did a good job of that tonight. We were so alert on the hedges and we were so alert on seeing the ball in the man. We got backcut seven times against Georgetown and did not get backcut today, did not get beat on the baseline on their clear-out plays the whole night. We paid attention the whole game. Everybody thinks that’s easy. It’s not easy to do that….None of us want to work that hard, and it’s hard work to defend the way we defend.
I think I played a great game. I just stuck with the team and kept it tight.
As long as my teammates look for me, I’m going to keep making plays. Jeff was also looking for me a lot on the baseline.
On being back in the starting lineup
It’s a great feeling for me. I can’t even put it into words. I’m pretty happy right now.
Defense is definitely what drives us. We were able to get stops and stop them from scoring. That’s when we’re at our best running the floor and getting fast-breaks.
On stopping Rosario
We knew he was going to come out and put up a lot of shots. Our main focus was to make sure he didn’t score. That was my and Craig’s job.
We turned the defensive pressure up in the second half. We were able to get a lot of rebounds and start our fast-break.
It was just one of those games where we had to grind it out and find a way to get out of the funk. We finally got out of it, and started to run the fast-break.
He played well. We fouled him a little bit too much. He’s a good player and will be a really good player for them down the road.
On Stanley Robinson
We were down and Stanley was our energy
Today we played better on defensive. We were able to run our plays and limited their chances.
We came out as a team and said that we were going to play defense. We didn’t have as many blocked shots as usual, but we got a lot of defensive rebounds.
In the first half, when we didn’t shoot the ball real well, we were able to keep it, and played really good defense and kept them in the halfcourt….We out-rebounded them. If you just look at the rebounding stats from the first half to the second half, that will tell you the story of the game.
When they rebound the basketball, they can kick it out and get running and get easy baskets.
Early on, they were very physical, and they did a great job early on on the defensive end. But then I thought we got some great looks. Our guards have been knocking them down – our guards have been playing outstanding basketball – and tonight they just didn’t go down. If you look at Corey and Anthony and Mike, we just couldn’t make a shot.
Give UConn credit. I thought they were long, physical – the most physical team that we’ve played, and the longest team that we’ve played.
On recent stretch of games
No excuses, and UConn played their rear ends off. They really, really impressed me. North Carolina can score with anybody in the country. This was the best defensive team, tonight, of the three that we faced….I think you can get mentally worn down. In the second half, the end of the week probably got to us mentally a little bit, moreso than I might have liked.