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    No. 13 UConn Battles DePaul To 65-60 Win

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    HARTFORD, Conn. (February 19, 2008) – Sophomore center Hasheem Thabeet (Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania) had 16 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocked shots as the No. 13-nationally ranked University of Connecticut’s men’s basketball team overcame a nine-point deficit in the game’s final six minutes to defeat DePaul, 65-60, Tuesday evening before a crowd of 14,858 at the XL Center.

    The Huskies earning their tenth straight victory with the win, pushed their record to 21-5, 10-3 in the BIG EAST. The Blue Demons drop to 10-15, 5-8 in the conference.

    The Huskies appeared to be in deep trouble when Will Walker made a lay-up with 6:12 to play to put DePaul ahead, 57-48. Junior A.J. Price (Amityville, N.Y.) started the comeback with a pair of free throws and then set up backcourt mate Craig Austrie (Stamford, Conn.) on a three-pointer to bring the Huskies within four, at 57-53 with 5:17 remaining.

    After Price harassed Cliff Clinkscales into a five-second violation turnover, Austrie made a spinning scoop shot to bring Connecticut within two. After a DePaul miss, Price made a floating jumper to knot the score at 57 with 3:59 to play. Draelon Burns put the Blue Demons ahead for a final time by making one of two free throws, and Connecticut took the lead for good a lay-up by Thabeet off of a pretty pass by Doug Wiggins (East Hartford, Conn.). After another DePaul miss, Jeff Adrien (Brookline, Mass.) snuck along the baseline and Wiggins found him and Adrien dunked to put the Huskies ahead by three with 2:36 to play.

    Burns brought DePaul within one with a lay-up, but Austrie and Stanley Robinson (Birmingham, Ala.) each made two free throws to salt away the victory.

    Thabeet, bouncing back from a few less-than-stellar efforts, led the Huskies with his 16 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocked shots, in recording his sixth double-double of the season. Austrie had another clutch game for the Huskies, scoring 14 points on five-of-seven shooting. Connecticut is now an astounding 34-5 in games that Austrie has started in his career.

    Adrien recorded his 13th double-double of the season, with 12 points and 11 rebounds. He added four blocked shots as well. His 12 points gives him 998 points in his Connecticut career and he is poised to become the 40th member of the school’s 1,000-Point Club.

    Robinson finished with nine points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots, while Wiggins had eight points and four assists as the Huskies’ key reserve performer. Price, was held to below double digit scoring for the first time in a BIG EAST game this year, did have a game-high seven assists.

    Burns led DePaul with a game-high 20 points, while Walker added 10 points for the Blue Demons.

    The opening twenty minutes was a sluggish affair, as neither team shot the ball well and the Huskies committed seven turnovers. The first half ended with the Huskies clinging to a 29-28 lead.

    DePaul bolted from the intermission break, scoring the first 14 points of the half before Adrien scored six straight Connecticut points to stop the run. DePaul led by as many as 13 points in the second half three times, the final time with 10:52 to play at 53-40 before the Huskies mounted their improbable comeback.

    The Huskies will now take to the road for a two-game road trip commencing on Saturday, February 23, when Connecticut travels to the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia to play Villanova. Tip-off is set for noon, and the game will be nationally-televised by ESPN.
     

     

    POSTGAME QUOTES

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    Head Coach Jim Calhoun

    The only reason that we won, I think, is because we have won.  There is no other logical reason that comes to mind. 

     

    They weren’t playing great except they had a real good 4-5 minutes to start the 2nd half.  We did so many things to shoot ourselves in the foot.

     

    The big fella won the game for us (Hasheem Thabeet) far and away, it wasn’t even close.  His 8 blocked shots, his 10 intimidations his couple of post moves down the stretch.

     

    I thought Craig (Austrie) really picked up the fact that AJ (Price) had maybe his poorest game in the past 10.  I can forgive him for that because he has had 9 really tremendous games. 

     

    None of our kids, really, were playing well, except for the guy who played well the whole game…was Hasheem. I think he was the difference maker, he battled.

     

    I was really disappointed in our kids…there is no excuse for us to play the way we did….I thought Craig Austrie made big plays and Hasheem was outstanding.  Stanley was awesome, he really played an awful lot of great defense out there, he was switching on people and did some really good things on defense.

     

    I think the kid did a good job on AJ. And I think AJ tried to force it a couple of times, thus the 5 turnovers, and that is the first time he’s done that.

     

     

    Head Coach Jerry Wainwright
    You have to credit their whole staff and the youngster himself, Hasheem Thabeet, has come a long long way, and you get so used to him blocking the ball. I thought that one down the stretch might have been goaltending but one basket does not determine the game. He is such a factor. He forces you to invert your offense. I only wish our post players might have made a shot or two I think we could have stopped the run.

    We went into the game trying to get our post players shots and certainly we had great looks. Even during their streak…I think we maybe had 2, 3, 4 shots. We didn’t turn the ball over, we got good looks through the second half. But you have got to shoot better than that against teams that are lane oriented and so powerful inside. A lot of our outside shots were really good looks. They are a good team, they are playing at home and they do what good teams do, they hung in there and played well down the stretch.

    We certainly had opportunities to shoot the ball better.

    They are going to come at you and they spread the floor. The difference with them is that when they spread the floor you can’t drive it, you have to pick spots and get some jump shots.

    Their defense starts when the jump ball starts.

    If you would have told me that going into this game, they would have 65 points I would have been overjoyed. I really like their team, they are deserving of a national ranking, they are good, they are playing well together, I like their chemistry.

     

     

    Guard A.J. price

    The huge difference is that last year we lost these close games. This year we’re pulling them out. We’ll take a “W” any day.

    We didn’t play well. They played hard and made it a game.

    On Doug Wiggins diving attempt for a steal in the second half
    The crowd really appreciated it. We really appreciated it as well. When a guy lays his body on the line like that, you’ve got to understand how hard he’s playing. You’ve got to try to match that intensity.

     

    Center Hasheem Thabeet
    I was able to get more touches because of the way I presented myself. I was able to finish.

    We came out very flat in the first half and the first 10 minutes of the second half.

     

    Guard Doug Wiggins
    We’re just happy that we’re getting these “W’s”

    We’ve learned how to win which is something we didn’t do last year.

     

    Forward Jeff Adrien
    We’re very lucky to come out of here with a win.

    Tonight was one of those nights where other guys stepped up. Hasheem, Dougie, Craig and Stanley really stepped up for us tonight and got some points.

     

    Guard Craig Austrie
    There was plenty of time on the clock. We would have panicked last year.

    We knew there was a lot of time on the clock and we just wanted to take it basket by basket.