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Huskies rebound after scoring nine points in first half

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Charles Dickens and Rod Serling had
nothing to do with it, but Connecticut acted as if each had a hand
in scripting the game.

The ninth-ranked Huskies made seven straight 3-pointers in the
second half Tuesday night to rally from a 25-point deficit and beat
Massachusetts 59-48, matching its biggest comeback under coach Jim
Calhoun.

''It was a tale of two games,'' Calhoun said. ''In the first
half we were comatose.''

Center Emeka Okafor, held to four points, 15 below his average,
had a different take.

''We were in the 'Twilight Zone,' '' he said. ''I don't know
what we were doing, but we weren't playing Connecticut
basketball.''

UConn (6-0) wasn't running much offense in the first half.
Stymied by the Minutemen's triangle-and-one defense, a combination
zone and man, the Huskies managed just nine points on 4-for-26
shooting (15 percent) and trailed 30-9 at the break.

''We couldn't get any break going and then (UMass) would wind
the clock down to 10 seconds,'' Calhoun said. ''We became
deflated.''

UMass (1-5) took advantage of the absence of UConn's leading
rebounder, Okafor, who was in foul trouble early in the game, and
outscored the Huskies 20-4 in the paint in the first half.

''You couldn't have told me before that game in a million years
that was going to happen,'' UMass coach Steve Lappas said. ''It was
just one of those halves for them. But like great teams, I know one
thing, if we can hold them to nine, they can hold us to nine in a
half, too.''

The last time UMass held an opponent to under 10 points in a
half was in 1958 against Trinity, which scored eight.

On Tuesday night, Jackie Rogers had 10 of his 12 points in the
first half. He opened the game with three quick baskets, staking
UMass to a 6-2 lead.

UConn's turnaround in the second half was a quick one. After
falling behind 34-9 inside the first two minutes of the second
half, on baskets by Micah Brand and Rogers, the Huskies hit six
3-pointers in the first 10 minutes -- getting two apiece from Ben Gordon -- who scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half -- and freshmen Denham Brown and Rashad Anderson.

The Huskies also stepped up their press and changed the pace of
the game. The faster the game, the quicker the comeback.

''The game was getting to the point where we wanted it to be,''
Calhoun said. ''Everything changed. Our press really saved us
tonight and some young freshmen made big plays.''

Anderson, who finished with 16 points, hit his first of three
3-pointers with 14:56 left in the game to cut UMass' lead to 34-16.
The Huskies then hit their next five from long range.

''Once I got in the game I felt the rhythm when they passed me
the ball and it went it,'' he said. ''I was loving it. It was
fun.''

With Okafor back in, the Huskies began to regain their inside
game. He had four of his five blocks in the second half. His hook
shot with 6:33 left gave the Huskies their first lead at 38-36, and
the comeback -- a 29-6 run -- was complete. UConn hit 12 of 22 shots
for 55 percent in the second half.

The Minutemen were unable to regain the lead as the Huskies
pulled away 21-12 the rest of the way in a spurt that included
another 3-pointer from Gordon and 14-of-16 from the line.

Okafor finished with 12 rebounds and four points and Denham
Brown added 11.

Anthony Anderson led UMass with 13 points. Brand added 12 points
and 13 boards as the Minutemen outrebounded the Huskies,41-31.

UConn leads the series in the rivalry dubbed the ''U-Game,''
67-38, and has won the last 12 meetings. The Huskies rallied from a
25-point deficit in 1995 to beat Pittsburgh, 85-76 in Pittsburgh.

''We could have easily quit,'' Gordon said. ''Any other team
probably wouldn't have come back like us. That just says a lot
about our character.''

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