Scores

Final

Villanova 65

(12-6, 5-1 Big East)

(11) Connecticut 74

(12-3, 3-1 Big East)

2:00 PM ET, January 25, 2003

XL Center, Hartford, Connecticut

1 2 T
VILL 34 3165
#11CONN 38 3674

UConn hands Villanova first Big East loss of season

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut wasn't about to play the waiting game this time.

The (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) Huskies jumped on Villanova early and came away with a 74-65 win to give the Wildcats their first loss in the Big East Conference.

Rashad Anderson scored 18 points to lead the Huskies, who didn't have to dig themselves out of double-digit deficits like they had the past six games.

"In 31 years, I don't think I've ever had a team go that many consecutive games trailing by double figures,'' coach Jim Calhoun said. "It's hard to find a solution to something that's never happened before.''

UConn found some answers in defense and an explosive transition game. The Huskies held the Wildcats to 30 percent shooting in the second half and 35 percent for the game.

The Huskies (12-3, 3-1) remained unbeaten at home after coming off two tough road losses. The Wildcats (12-6, 5-1) were on a five-game winning streak, averaging nearly 92 points during that run. They shot just 35 percent Saturday.

Anderson, a freshman reserve, shot 7-of-9, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range.

"I just got into a rhythm,'' Anderson said. "The basket looked like it was really big, so I kept shooting. You can't think about it because there's a chance you might miss. I never think about it, I just react.''

Ben Gordon added 17 points and eight assists for the Huskies and Emeka Okafor anchored a strong inside game with 14 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.

UConn lost by three points at North Carolina on Jan. 18, followed by a 77-76 loss in Miami on Monday as time expired.

"This was real important to us as a team, because we hit a little bump in the road,'' Gordon said. "We had to get back on our feet.''

UConn led this one nearly the entire way after starting quickly on the offensive. The Huskies also got a solid game from freshmen Hilton Armstrong, a 6-foot-10 forward, making his fourth straight start. Armstrong had a career-high five assists, with most of his feeds finding Okafor down low.

The Huskies opened an 11-3 lead in the first five minutes, getting six points from Okafor in that run. They increased the lead with their transition game and Armstrong's dunk on a feed from Taliek Brown with 9:19 left gave the Huskies their largest lead of the half at 24-14.

The Wildcats used the perimeter to climb back. Gary Buchanan hit two 3-pointers in a 13-8 run to pull Villanova within four with 3:59 left. The Huskies countered with consecutive 3s from Denham Brown and Anderson.

Villanova closed the period on a 6-0 run that included a 35-footer by Derrick Snowden at the buzzer that cut the Huskies' lead to 38-34.

Villanova got within three in the second half when Randy Foye hit two free throws to make it 49-46 with 13:45 remaining. Anderson responded for UConn with a 3 to start an 8-0 run and the Wildcats would get no closer than six the rest of the way.

"We said we're going to run into a game where we don't shoot the ball well or someone's going to play good defense. And tonight was one of those nights,'' Villanova coach Jay Wright said.

Okafor and Denham Brown each finished with 14 points.

Buchanan led the Wildcats with 14 points, while Snowden and Foye each had 11.

With a starting lineup that includes two freshmen and two sophomores, Calhoun said he needs a leader on the team, which could explain some of the slow starts.

"Right now, we're still trying to find someone to bring us together,'' he said. "I hope that maybe we can always hang our hat on defense.''

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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2002-03 Season

DATEGAMELINKS
» Jan 25, 2003 @CONN 74, VILL 65Recap
Feb 15, 2003 @VILL 79, CONN 70Recap