Okafor's inside game gets Huskies past drought


HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- When Connecticut couldn't hit a shot from
the field, the Huskies turned to their man in middle.

Emeka Okafor responded.

The sophomore center scored nine points in the first nine
minutes of the second half and finished with 12 rebounds and eight
blocks as the 12th-ranked Huskies held off George Washington 67-55 Monday night.

''We were just stagnant. Nothing was moving,'' Okafor said. ''I
felt whatever jump-start we could get would help the team.''

Okafor's second-half spurt was part of a 15-2 run that gave
UConn its largest lead of the game at 52-38. The Huskies (2-0)
needed all of it because they made just one field goal over the
final 14:40 and finished with 35.6 percent shooting from the floor.

Tony Robertson led the Huskies with 21 points after shooting
4-for-5 on 3-pointers in the first half.

''This team is going to have to work a lot harder to get a lot
better,'' UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. ''It was nice to get a win.
I'm not overly disappointed, but I wasn't too pleased.''

The game pitted Calhoun, UConn's winningest coach, against his
former assistant, Karl Hobbs, now in his second year at George

UConn never trailed but needed Robertson's four 3-pointers in
the first half to stay ahead of the hard-charging Colonials (0-1).
UConn shot just 36 percent in the half and committed 10 turnovers,
but the Huskies controlled the boards, scoring 11 points off
offensive rebounds.

Ben Gordon had 17 points for UConn. Okafor finished with 13
points and a team-high four steals.

The Huskies led by as many as nine in the first half, but
back-to-back 3-pointers from Chris Monroe and a putback by Pops
Bensah-Bonsu cut the lead to a point midway through the half.

Robertson scored the next six points, but the Huskies couldn't
shake loose from the Colonials and held a 37-33 lead at the break.

''I really thought we played hard,'' Hobbs said. ''If
Connecticut gets 67 points, then I think we slowed the pace down.
Anytime you come into Connecticut's building and hold them to 35
percent shooting, that's very difficult to do.''

During its second-half field goal drought, UConn hit 15 of 26
shots from the foul line. The Huskies made seven 3-pointers in the
first half and none in the second. The Colonials shot 31 percent on
21-for-68 shooting.

Both teams were nearly even in the paint. George Washington
outrebounded UConn 46-45, but the Huskies outscored the Colonials
24-20 inside. UConn had the edge off the bench, getting 25 points
from reserves while George Washington got 12.

Monroe led the Colonials with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Mike
Hall added 12 points and nine boards.

UConn has beaten George Washington five of the last six
meetings, including an eight-point victory last season in Washington.

Robertson said he knew Hobbs would have the Colonials ready for
the Huskies.

''He wanted to beat his old coach,'' Robertson said. ''I knew
they were going to come at us. It was just a matter of how we were
going to come back at them.''