— Senior A.J. Price
(Amityville, N.Y.) scored a game-high 23 points and Hasheem Thabeet
(Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania) and Jeff Adrien
(Brookline, Mass.) each recorded double-doubles as the fourth-ranked Connecticut men’s basketball team took control early and easily defeated Seton Hall, 76-61, Sunday afternoon before a crowd of 15,572 at the XL Center.
The Huskies, winners of five straight, are now 16-1, 5-1 in the BIG EAST Conference. Seton Hall is now 9-8, 0-5 in league play.
Price was the offensive catalyst from the outset, scoring 14 of his points before halftime en route to his third 20-plus point performance of the season and 15th of his career. He made nine of 16 field goal attempts, and was good on half of his three-point attempts as well. For good measure, he added five assists against just one turnover in 30 solid minutes of game action.
The Husky front-court starters were equally impressive as Seton Hall had no answer for Thabeet and Adrien, as Connecticut pounded the ball inside to the tune of 46 points in the paint. Thabeet finished with 15 points and yanked down 17 rebounds along with four blocked shots. His 17 caroms set a career BIG EAST high. The contest marked the 17th career double-double for Thabeet, and eighth of the season. Adrien scored 13 points, while grabbing 12 boards, dishing out three assists and swatting away two shots. He now has 40 career double-doubles and seven this campaign.
Junior guard Jerome Dyson (Rockville, Md.) scored seven points and added six assists in the game, marking a season-high and BIG EAST career-high total for helpers.
The Huskies trailed 12-11 after a three-pointer by Seton Hall’s Eugene Harvey, but Connecticut took the lead for good on a Price jumper in the lane as part of a personal 8-point run, that put the Huskies up 17-12. Connecticut extended its lead to 42-26 at intermission, and led by as many as 22 points as they cruised to the easy victory.
Connecticut out-rebounded the Pirates, 40-33, continuing the Huskies streak of not being out-rebounded in any contest this season. Buffalo was able to tie the Huskies in rebounding in the December 4th contest.
Jeremy Hazell led the Pirates with 20 points, while Robert Mitchell chipped in with 19.
The Huskies will return to the hardwood on Wednesday, January 21, when they entertain league foe Villanova at the XL Center. Tip off is set for 7:00 p.m., and the contest will be televised-nationally by ESPN.
Post Game Quotes
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On poor free throw shooting
We’re going to have to improve that. If we go 8-18, say against Notre Dame, if we come out with a ‘w”? I don’t think so.
On Seton Hall
They’ve played good people. They’re a pretty good team. They’re a really good offensive team. We were really convinced that they would come out and pressure us. And they stayed in the match-up for almost the entire game. They did pull-out of it a couple of times and we got lay-ups out of it. That’s a tribute to the fact that we played with three guards a lot more today against that.
I think Bobby’s team was well prepared. Hazell’s got to get off for them.
Seton Hall, at the end of it, will be one of the best offensive teams (in the league). If you don’t stop them, you’ve got yourself a problem.
My biggest problem was that we gave up the dribble a little to the rim too much.
On AJ’s teammates helping pick up the slack when he is not having a great game
When I haven’t done my job, they’ve done a great job of picking up the slack. I’ll do my best to try to be more consistent and get us into that good rotation.
We did some good things today. In the first half, we looked very good at times. We’ll take something from that and build off that. We ran the ball well – fast break points. We rebounded well. So, we did a lot of good things tonight.
On playing Villanova on Wednesday
They are a physical team. That’s the nature of their program. They play physical defense, so you have to understand you can’t be soft or lackadaisical in anything you do on offense.
On A.J. bouncing back this game from a subpar game against St. John’s.
We have a team where everyone can score. When somebody doesn’t score one night, it doesn’t mean anything. We have other guys that will pick it up for him. We know what AJ’s capable of doing. He scored 20-something – we know he can do that every night. Some nights it’s not falling. Like for me free throws I wasn’t hitting them.
On having 20 assists on 31 field goals
In New York (against St. John’s) we turned the ball over a lot. Today we took care of the ball and got a lot of assists.
In the second half, we really didn’t put the pedal to the metal
On his second half play
I was able to get a lot of touches and was able to make plays.
On being pulled one minute into the game
Coach said I was sleeping and needed to wake up. I went in cold and had to get involved.
Before we got on the court everyone was so excited and I thought we’d be like that on the court. But when we got out there everyone got quiet.
I told the coaches I thought I needed to get more touches. We were making unnecessary turnovers so we had to pick it up a little bit. The coaches said okay we’re going to get everyone involved. We’re going to play five as one. And then we were successful.
Their inside people, Jeff Adrien and Thabeet, they’re like an NBA 4 and 5. I just don’t see too many teams in the league that have two special guys like that. They’re a problem especially with AJ Price and Dyson. They make threes so you have to kind of pick your poison with him.
On Hazell shooting 2-11 in the first half
I think he took a couple bad shots, and got a little frustrated. They shaded him and chased him around. They were pretty physical with him. He’s made a name for himself. He got 28 against them last year. They certainly knew who he was.
(Hazell) found a way to get 20 points. He was a lot more active in the second half. He ran to the corner. He found ways to get open. We did a better job finding him.