STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Hobbled by foul trouble and turnovers,
third-ranked Connecticut still found a way to win.
The Huskies beat Miami 83-80 in overtime on Saturday behind 26
points from Ben Gordon and the game-winning bucket from Emeka
Okafor. Okafor, UConn's leading rebounder and shotblocker, was in foul
trouble early and played less than half the game. "It was an awkward game for me,'' Okafor said. "I couldn't get
in any type of rhythm. Once I did, I'd get a foul and they'd take
me out.'' Averaging nearly 17 points and 13 rebounds, Okafor played just
six minutes in the first half and sparingly in the second after
picking up his fourth foul with 10 minutes left in regulation. But he was on the floor when it mattered most to help the
Huskies (10-1, 1-0 Big East) rebound from their first loss, a
10-point defeat at Oklahoma on Tuesday. The sophomore center scrambled for a loose ball, fought through
a double team and hit a layup for the go-ahead basket with 2:34
left in overtime. He finished with seven points and four rebounds. "We just tried to keep him in the game mentally,'' Gordon said.
"The refs kind of took him out with the foul calls, but he came
through at the end.'' With Okafor out, Miami big men Darius Rice and James Jones
combined for 54 points and were a difficult matchup for UConn's
reserve post players. "That's the first time maybe this year that a team has been
able to have free rein inside the lane,'' UConn coach Jim Calhoun
said. "We really aren't the same without Emeka.'' Rice and Jones, meanwhile, barely had time for a breather,
playing 41 and 43 minutes, respectively. But Miami needed them. "Maybe I played them too long,'' Hurricanes coach Perry Clark
said. "But when I looked down the bench I didn't like what my
options were.'' The Hurricanes (7-6, 0-2) got within one point on Paulo Coelho's
3-pointer with 8.3 seconds left. Denham Brown, who finished with 18
points, iced the win with two free throws with 7.3 seconds left.
Miami had one last shot, but Armondo Surratt's 3-point attempt
bounced off the rim at the buzzer. Miami is 1-3 in overtime games this season. "I thought we executed a lot better,'' Clark said. "It shows
that we can play with a lot of people.'' Rice had half of his 28 points in the second half, rallying the
Hurricanes from an eight-point deficit. His 3-pointer with 2.1
seconds remaining in regulation sent the game into overtime at
71-all. The Huskies staged their own comeback in the first half,
overcoming a 10-point deficit and 14 turnovers to build a 38-36
lead. Jones, who had 26 points, hit consecutive 3-pointers, and Rice
scored seven points in a 16-3 run. Down nine with 5:47 left in the first half, the Huskies went on
an 11-0 run capped by Taliek Brown's driving layup to take a 36-34
lead with less than a minute left. Despite Okafor's absence, the Huskies maintained a slight edge
in the paint, outscoring the Hurricanes 32-28 and outrebounding
them 32-30. "We have a lot of versatile and talented people on our team,''
Taliek Brown said. "Anybody is liable to step up when someone is
having a bad game.'' Miami starting guard Michael Simmons injured his right knee with
four minutes left in regulation and did not return.