BLACKSBURG, VA (Jan. 2, 2002) - Caron Butler (So., Racine, WI) scored 29 points to equal his career high and four other Huskies reached double figures to help the University of Connecticut mens basketball team to a 86-74 victory over Virginia Tech at Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night. The game, which marked the BIG EAST season opener for both squads, saw UConn improve its record to 7-2 and 1-0 in the conference, while Virginia Tech slipped to 6-7 and 0-1 in league play.
Butler opened the scoring with a jumper at the 18:41 mark for two of his 13 first half points and the Huskies never trailed in the game. Connecticut was able to take advantage of a slow start by Virginia Tech that saw the Hokies turn the ball over seven times in the first 10 minutes of the half with Emeka Okafor (Fr., Houston, TX) dunking to make it 21-11 at that point in the game. Twice before half, UConn pushed the lead to 13, but Virginia Tech fixed the turnover problem. Bryant Chase hit a trio of three pointers down the stretch to keep it close with UConn owning a 44-36 advantage at the break.
UConn was able to hold Virginia Tech off for much of the second half before Chase drained a pair of free throws with 4:06 remaining to draw Virginia Tech to within six as the score stood 73-67. Butler answered with a jumper and two free throws of his own to begin to put the game away before Ben Gordon (Fr., Mount Vernon, NY) laid it in with 2:19 to go to make the lead 12.
Tony Robertson (Jr., Providence, RI) finished the night with 15 points, and Gordon added 14, while Taliek Brown (So., Queens, NY) and Johnnie Selvie (Sr., Flint, MI) each chipped in with 10. Okafor led the team in rebounds with 12.
Up next, UConn will return home for a BIG EAST Conference showdown with the nationally-ranked Hurricanes of Miami. The game is set for Saturday, January 5 at 7 p.m. at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion.