Cent Conn St 65

(3-4, 1-2 away)

(6) Connecticut 93

(8-0, 7-0 home)

    12:00 PM ET, December 28, 2002

    XL Center, Hartford, Connecticut

    1 2 T
    CCSU 27 3865
    #6CONN 47 4693

    Blue Devils have no answer for Okafor

    HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Seeing Connecticut run the court on film is one thing. Trying to keep up with the No. 6 Huskies is another.

    Ben Gordon scored 24 points and the Huskies got another dominating inside performance from Emeka Okafor in a 93-65 win over Central Connecticut and former longtime UConn assistant Howie Dickenman.

    "They're as fast as any team in the country,'' Dickenman said. "They're quicker in person than when you watch them on tape.''

    Okafor, the nation's leading shot-blocker with an average of 5.4 rejections, grabbed 11 rebounds and accounted for eight of 14 blocks by UConn (8-0).

    "He's intimidating. He's in the back of our players' mind,'' Dickenman said. "He blocked eight, but he probably altered or psychologically was responsible for four or five misses.''

    Okafor had 15 points and four blocks in the first half, and scored six of UConn's final eight points in the period. His basket with 1:55 left gave the Huskies a 22-point lead, their largest of the half at 45-23.

    "The guards were doing a good job of finding me,'' Okafor said. "They wouldn't waste time. They gave it to me right away and let me do my thing.''

    Central's Ricardo Scott countered with back-to-back scores and Denham Brown capped the scoring for UConn with a jumper as the Huskies held a 47-27 lead at the break.

    The game marked the first matchup between UConn coach Jim Calhoun and Dickenman, who took over at Central, his alma mater, before the 1996-97 season. The Huskies lead the series 11-0.

    Central (3-4), which was coming off two straight losses, overcame some team illnesses and has had to shuffle its lineup after senior Damian Battles, last season's second-leading scorer, left the team earlier this month.

    "They looked like a banged up basketball team,'' Calhoun said. "We looked like a very good basketball team.''

    Calhoun's fears that his team would be rusty from the holiday break were unfounded.

    "We lacked a little focus at times but we weren't really rusty energy-wise,'' Calhoun said. "I keep saying that may be the key this team -- energy with focus. We can get up and down the court very well if the game is allowed to flow that way.''

    The Huskies started quickly in the second half as Gordon scored eight points in a 9-0 run in the first 90 seconds of the period. The Huskies extended their lead to 43 points when Chad Wise's 3-pointer made it 85-42 with 7:22 to play.

    Jon Popofski shot 5-for-8 from 3-point range and led Central with 18 points. Scott added 16 points.

    The Huskies outscored the Blue Devils 54-20 in the paint and shot 60 percent from the field. UConn also got big contributions from its reserves, outscoring the Blue Devil reserves 43-19. Tony Robertson finished with 19 points to lead Connecticut's subs.

    "It becomes apparent every game that the total effect of our bench gets onto another team,'' Calhoun said. "There's no way to relax, no way to put your starters out because our bench can really score some points.''

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    2002-03 Season

    » Dec 28, 2002 @CONN 93, CCSU 65Recap