-- Senior A.J. Price
(Amityville, N.Y.) scored 22 points to lead the No. 5 nationally-ranked University of Connecticut men’s basketball team to a 81-72 BIG EAST road win over the University of Cincinnati at the Fifth Third Arena.
With the win, UConn improves to 14-1 overall on the season, 3-1 in the BIG EAST. The Bearcats fall to 10-6 overall and 0-3 in the league on the season.
Senior Jeff Adrien (Brookline, Mass.) had 13 points and 12 rebounds, his 38th career double-double. Also in double figures for UConn was junior Jerome Dyson (Rockville, Md.) with 12 points. Cincinnati was led by Deonta Vaughn, who scored 19 points.
Kemba Walker (Bronx, N.Y.) went the length of the floor for a layup with 6:21 to play to give the Huskies a 65-56 lead and force a Cincinnati timeout, the second nine-point lead of the half for the Huskies. UConn got a stop out of the break and then Price hit a three from in front of the Husky bench, making it 68-56 with just over five minutes left. The Bearcats would get no closer nine points while the contest was still in doubt.
The start of the second half saw the teams continue to push and pull their way through a physical affair, as the Huskies would attempt to pull away, but the Bearcats would claw their way back each time. UConn extended a four-point halftime lead to six in the first several minutes, but Cincinnati would continue to chip away and get back to within three on multiple occasions. Dyson capped an 8-2 mini-run with a three from in front of the UConn bench to give the Huskies a 55-46 lead, the biggest of the game to that point, forcing a Bearcat timeout. Cincinnati responded out of the timeout with back-to-back jumpers from Yancy Gates, forcing Jim Calhoun to call a UConn timeout with a five-point edge, 55-50, with 10:40 to play. Out of that timeout, the Huskies turned the ball over and Cincinnati went the other way for a Dion Dixon layup to cut the deficit to three again. Stanley Robinson (Birmingham, Ala.) scored on a feed from Price to get the advantage back to five, 57-52, as the teams took a media timeout with 9:02 left to go in the game.
The Huskies settled for a 38-34 halftime lead after holding as much as an eight-point edge during the stanza. Price did most of the Husky damage, bouncing back from one of the worst games of his career at West Virginia on Tuesday night. He hit a 30-footer at the buzzer, his third three of the half, to give him 13 first half points after going scoreless against WVU. UConn battled foul trouble, with Hasheem Thabeet (Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania), Robinson and Gavin Edwards (Gilbert, Ariz.) each picking up a pair of fouls and being forced to the bench. The Bearcats took advantage, erasing a 19-11 UConn lead and forcing five tie scores during the course of the half. Cincinnati was never able to get over the hump and take the lead, thanks mostly to the long range shooting of Price, who hit two of his three shots from long distance in the final 46 seconds of the half.
The Huskies return to action on Thursday, January 15 when they travel to New York City for a matchup with the Red Storm of St. John’s at Madison Square Garden. Game time is 7:00 p.m. and the contest will be televised nationally by ESPN.