Instant Analysis: Connecticut-Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- ESPN.com's Brian Bennett provides instant analysis from Connecticut's 68-51 win at Louisville on Monday:

GAME ANALYSIS: After rising to No. 1 earlier in the day, UConn turned in a performance worthy of its ranking. The Huskies' front line dominated and intimidated a Louisville team that had been playing as well as any in the country coming into the game. The Cardinals looked timid in the paint all night against Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien, and their guards provided little relief. Connecticut led by double digits for the entire second half and shot 47.1 percent for the game in a thoroughly impressive showing.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: The turning point occurred late in the first half, as UConn scored the last 10 points before intermission and then the first three of the second half to build a 41-26 lead. Louisville coach Rick Pitino took out star Terrence Williams at the end of the half to keep him from picking up his third foul, and the Cardinals couldn't score for the final 5:11 before halftime without him. UConn converted Louisville's repeated misses into easy transition looks and was never seriously threatened the rest of the way.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Adrien didn't produce his usual double-double -- falling three rebounds shy -- but he did finish with a team-high 18 points and shut down Louisville's leading scorer, Earl Clark, by outmuscling him on the defensive end.

PLAYER OF THE GAME II: Thabeet's defensive presence dictated play, as the 7-foot-3 center blocked four shots and had Louisville shooting floaters and hook shots instead of taking it to the rim. According to video research done by ESPN's Stats & Analysis Team, not a single Louisville player scored on Thabeet when he was the primary defender. Oh, by the way, he also contributed 14 points and 11 rebounds.

STAT OF THE GAME: The purest illustration of UConn's physical superiority: Louisville shot two free throws in the game. At home. That's what happens when you're scared to go up strong. The Huskies went to the line 24 times, but they were whistled for only nine fouls the entire night.

WHAT IT MEANS: Since these two teams meet only once this season, Connecticut now owns the tiebreaker against Louisville in the Big East race. The Huskies (10-1) are still one game behind Marquette (8-0) in the loss column, but Monday night's win clearly establishes them as the team to beat in the nation's deepest conference.

EASY DOES IT: UConn won going away without making a 3-pointer. How? By getting points the easy way. The Huskies scored 42 points in the paint (compared to just 18 for Louisville) and made 20 free throws, accounting for 62 of their 68 points. By halftime, 36 of UConn's 38 points had come either in the lane or from the line. The Huskies had nine layups or dunks in the half.

NO ONE BUT ONE: Williams, who wears No. 1 and is a Big East player of the year candidate, did all he could for Louisville, scoring 26 points despite the early foul trouble. He was 11-for-19 on the night, while the rest of his team went a collective 11-for-45. No other Cardinal reached double digits, and Clark suffered through a miserable 2-for-16 shooting night. Freshman center Samardo Samuels was scoreless and helpless against Thabeet, missing his only two attempts. And Louisville's three veteran guards -- Edgar Sosa, Jerry Smith and Andre McGee -- had only two field goals, both of them by Sosa.

NEXT FOR THE HUSKIES: UConn will escape the grind of Big East play the rest of the week and will step out of conference to welcome Michigan to Storrs on Saturday (ESPN, 6 ET). The Huskies' next league challenge will come the following Feb. 11 at home against Syracuse.

NEXT FOR THE CARDINALS: Louisville faces two straight road games, at St. John's on Saturday and then a trip to struggling Notre Dame on Feb. 12. If the Cardinals can get through that, they have a chance at putting together another winning streak, with games at home against DePaul and Providence.

Brian Bennett covers college basketball and football for ESPN.com.