— Connecticut’s starting frontcourt of Jeff Adrien
(Brookline, Mass.) and Hasheem Thabeet
(Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania) combined for 41 points and 25 rebounds to lead the second-ranked Huskies to a hard-fought 75-55 men’s basketball victory over in-state rival Fairfield Friday evening before a crowd of 13,771 at the XL Center.
The Huskies are now 11-0 on the season, while the Stags, who saw their seven-game win streak snapped, drop to 8-4 on the year.
Connecticut’s two big men dominated the contest from the outset, making 18 of 25 shots from the field, mostly dunks and layups against the smaller Stags. Adrien, who recorded his 37th career double-double, led the Huskies with 21 points and 14 rebounds. He has now grabbed at least five rebounds in 36 consecutive contests. Adrien has made 26 of his last 40 shots from the field.
Thabeet was equally impressive in the interior for Connecticut. He made 10 of 14 field goal attempts, and grabbed 11 rebounds to give him his 15th career double-double and sixth in 11 games this season. He swatted away six Fairfield shots, among 11 rejected by the Huskies. Thabeet has now made 35 of his last 49 shots, an impressive 71 percent.
Connecticut’s leading scorer this season, Jerome Dyson (Rockville, Md.) was held to 10 points, but he had a season-high six assists against just one turnover. Freshman point guard Kemba Walker (Bronx, N.Y.) had nine points and four assists, while A.J. Price (Amityville, N.Y.) had six points and five assists.
The Huskies, coming off a thrilling overtime victory over seventh-ranked Gonzaga, struggled at the outset, trailing 14-13 midway through the opening half after a three-pointer by Mike Evanovich. But the Huskies quickly went on an 8-0 run that was started on a dunk by Adrien and finished by three consecutive baskets by Thabeet. Fairfield got as close as five points only one more time, trailed 42-26 at intermission, and never seriously threatened again.
The Huskies made at least half of their field goal attempts for the sixth time this year, and enjoyed a 48-22 advantage in points in the paint.
Greg Nero led the Stags with 16 points, while Anthony Johnson had six points and nine rebounds in the contest.
The Huskies will play their BIG EAST Conference opener on Monday, December 29 when they entertain Georgetown at the XL Center. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. and the contest will be televised-nationally by espn2.
Post Game Quotes
Fairfield came in very well prepared defensively. I knew they ran good stuff, but defensively they really kind of stopped us from getting into any kind of motion, any kind of flow, that we would really like to do.
Eventually, we started playing really good defense, and then we started executing really good offense. At times, we were really, really, good.
In order for us to be the team that we’re capable of being, we have to play 40 minutes.
Against Gonzaga, our outside players were just absolutely sensational. Tonight against Fairfield, our inside players were sensational – our outside players were “OK.” We’re going to need that back court and that front court to match up together to have the type of games we’re capable of.
Tonight was, by the second half, a dominating performance by us. I was really happy at certain things we did. I just don’t like us not playing every single play, because you only get so many a year. We’ve had 11 chances to get it done, and we’ve done it, but we have 19 Big East games – and I’m including Michigan as a Big East game because they’re as good as anyone in our league – we have 19 wars starting on Monday, and we better be prepared to put everybody together.
It certainly was a good tune-up. We dominated inside.
This was an important game for Kemba. He needed to get back on stride and he certainly did, I thought, late.
Jeff might have had his best game of the year.
Fairfield Head Coach Ed Cooley
Obviously, when you look at the stat sheet, they really controlled the game. When Thabeet and Adrien combine for whatever it was – a thousand and a thousand – it’s tough to win. Forty-one points, 25 rebounds, that’s the game.
I thought physically we got beat up in the interior. I thought we did a decent job on their perimeter players, but they played great inside-out basketball.
They’re clearly the best team we’ve played this year, and I don’t even think it’s close.
They played with a purpose. We played a little short-handed today. We could have used a little holiday love in this building and we didn’t get any.
They’re a very, very good team. They show poise, they show confidence. Wow. It was a physical, physical game and we didn’t match their physicality.
Not having Warren Edney really hurt us today.
Our front court really just got physically overwhelmed. That was the game.