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Strong Defense Leads UConn Over Providence


Hartford, CT (February 5, 2002) - Sophomore All-America candidate Caron Butler (Racine, WI) scored a team-high 16 points and matched his career-high with 13 rebounds, and UConn's defense put on a record-setting display in the first half, as Connecticut jumped out to a 22-point halftime lead to hold off league foe Providence, 67-56, Tuesday night before a sellout crowd of 16,294 at the Hartford Civic Center.

With the win, the Huskies improve to 15-5, 7-2 in the BIG EAST.  The Friars slip to 13-11, 4-6 in league play.

UConn bolted out of the gates quickly, scoring the game's first seven points.  With 8:29 to play in the opening half, Providence's Sheiku Kabba hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 15-9.  It would be the Friars last basket of the half.  UConn finished the half on an 18-2 run, with the only Providence points coming on John Linehan's two free throws after UConn's Johnnie Selvie (Sr., Flint, MI) was called for a technical for hanging on the rim. 

The Friars shot just 11.8 percent in the opening half (4-of-34) and missed their last 17 shots.  UConn enjoyed a 33-11 halftime lead, holding the Friars to the lowest one-half scoring total in the history of the BIG EAST Conference.

Joining Butler in double figures for the Huskies were Selvie and freshman guard Ben Gordon (Mt. Vernon, NY), who each had 14, and Taliek Brown (So., Queens, NY), who added 10 and dished out a team-high seven assists.  Freshman center Emeka Okafor (Houston, TX) had eight points, seven rebounds and five blocks.

The Huskies, the second-most accurate shooting team in the country, hit on 46.3 percent of their field goal tries (25-of-54) and held the Friars to just 31.4 percent shooting (22-of-70).  UConn's transition game proved lethal, providing 20 points to the Friars two. 

Maris Laska led the Friars with 17, while Linehan add 14.

The Huskies return to action on Saturday, Feb. 9, when they travel to Madison Square Garden to play St. John's.  Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. and will be televised nationally by ESPN.