– Hasheem Thabeet
(Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania) had 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead all five starters in double figure scoring as No. 2-ranked Connecticut overcame a sluggish start to defeat Bryant University in men’s basketball, 88-58, Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 12,558 at the XL Center.
The Huskies have now opened the season with six straight victories while the Bulldogs drop to 1-3 on the year.
Bryant started quickly behind the three-point shooting of Cecil Gresham, who hit three from long range in the game’s first 4:21. Bryant led 15-14 and trailed by just two, at 22-20, when the Huskies began to assert themselves. Freshman point guard Kemba Walker (Bronx, N.Y.) hit a three-pointer and senior forward Jeff Adrien (Brookline, Mass.) followed with a lay-up to put the Huskies up 27-20. Gresham answered with another three, Thabeet started an 11-0 run with a dunk and two free throws. Senior guard Craig Austrie (Stamford, Conn.) added a three-pointer and a jumper sandwiched around an Adrien jumper from the paint, and the Huskies led by 15, at 38-23, and had wrestled control of the contest. The Huskies settled for a 45-28 lead at intermission.
Thabeet registered the 12th double-double of his career (and third of this season) while adding a game-high three blocked shots. He had plenty of company in the scoring column as Austrie finished with 15 points (on five-of-eight shooting) while grabbing six rebounds.
Adrien narrowly missed his 36th career double-double by scoring 14 points and yanking down nine rebounds. Senior guard A.J. Price (Amityville, N.Y.) scored a season-high 14 points and tied for game-high assist honors with four. Junior guard Jerome Dyson (Rockville, Md.) scored in double figures for the seventh consecutive time by notching 11 points, while dishing out four assists and grabbing a season-high six rebounds.
Walker added nine points off of the bench for the Huskies.
The victory gives Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun 780 victories in his illustrious 37-year coaching career. He is now tied with Lute Olson and Lou Henson for eighth place on the all-time Division I coaching win list. Lefty Driesell is in seventh place with 786 victories.
The Huskies made half of their 64 field goal attempts, marking the fourth time in six games they had shot at least 50 percent from the field this year. The Huskies dominated the paint, out-rebounding the smaller Bulldogs, 48-27, while out-scoring them in the paint 36-12. They also converted 17 offensive rebounds into 24 second-chance points.
Gresham finished with a game-best 19 points for Bryant.
The Huskies will return to action on Monday, December 1 when they entertain Delaware State at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. and the contest will be televised by MyTV-9 and SNY.
Connecticut Head Coach Jim Calhoun Quotes
I said coming in that these are difficult games…I thought they did a good job making threes, spreading the threes and running the floor.
We gave up too many threes early.
We had a workmanlike performance.
You play these games trying to get something out of them.
Teams won’t play us the way Bryant had to play us, by packing five guys in the lane.
I would have liked us to play better three-point defense and better overall defense.
On Thabeet’s play
It will be important for us down the line when he has to compete….He still has to learn when smaller guys take his legs out from under him to play through….He’s got to stay active.
We wanted to get a few more points for Jerome today, particularly because he played such great defense.
Our defense if what does it for us. In the second half we really locked it down.
They got a lot of quick shots early. That caught us off guard
Once we get the ball inside, it really opens things us for us on the wind.
On Delaware State running a slowdown offense
We play a lot of good teams in the Big East that play different styles. It shouldn’t be a problem.
On taking 3’s
I took what was available. I got more shots up. I just wanted to be more aggressive.
It’s a team thing. It’s about knowing each other. We got to hang out in the Virgin Islands. And that helped our team chemistry. People don’t understand how important hanging out off the court can be. We have great individual players, but now it’s a team thing. That’s why we have people coming off the bench and helping us.
It was a good win. It all comes from the way we practice. And that started with Coach – he warned us about teams that have been upset.
On Delaware State slow-down style
We already played a game like that against Wisconsin. I think we can play that style.
On any given night, any one on this team can put up 20 points.
I don’t think it was a complete game, but it was a win.
I feel I can be an offensive threat every night.
They packed (the defense) in early, and did a good job of making us take tough shots.