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Calhoun gets 400th win at UConn

STORRS. Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut needed 20 minutes to start
looking like the No. 1 team in the country.

The Huskies rallied from a three-point halftime deficit to beat
Yale 70-60 Monday night in the opening round of the Preseason NIT.

It was better than the only other time Connecticut was a
preseason No. 1. The Huskies opened the 1999-00 season with a 70-68
loss to Iowa in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

"We've been through this before with great teams and with not
so great teams," Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said. "We were not
prepared to pay the price initially."

The undermanned Bulldogs used a patient offense to spread the
floor and keep the Huskies from getting out on the break.

That changed in the second half as the Huskies used a 14-2 run
to take a 48-37 lead and they went on to lead by as many as 17
before struggling at the free-throw line in the final 4{ minutes.

"That was an untraditional game," Calhoun said. "We're going
to have to be different teams different nights. This will be a work
in progress not in terms of talent but with different roles."

Emeka Okafor, the AP's preseason player of the year, had 21
points and 13 rebounds to lead Connecticut, which will host Nevada
in the second round Wednesday night.

"Pick after pick after pick and all of a sudden they just score
on the very last second," the junior center said of Yale's
offense. "That's just a blow to your morale."

Calhoun let his team know at halftime that it was time to be one
of those different teams. He called it a one-way discussion.

"Coach came in there at screamed at us and told us what we had
to do," Connecticut guard Taliek Brown said. "We had to play
harder and bring energy to the game. That's what we did in the
second half."

Denham Brown had 15 points and Ben Gordon added 13 and six
assists for the Huskies, who took the lead for good at 36-35 with
17:13 left on a fast-break dunk by freshman Josh Boone. In addition
to getting on the break, Connecticut turned up the pressure defense
as well.

Yale, which was playing a No. 1 team for the first time in
school history, committed just three turnovers in taking the 31-28
halftime lead. They committed six turnovers in the opening five
minutes of the second half and the Huskies were turning most of
those into easy baskets.

"In the second half a couple of things got away from us," Yale
coach James Jones said. "We turned it over a couple times and
that's always a key."

Dominick Martin and Edwin Draughan each had 14 points for Yale,
which lost its 12th straight season opener.

"Basically staying in our offensive structure and doing what
Coach told us and that's what got us our lead in the first half,"
Draughan said. "We might have deviated from it a little bit in the
second half.

"Maybe we got a little too excited at halftime."

It was the 18th consecutive win in a home opener for
Connecticut, which shot 57.7 percent in the second half
(15-for-26), including 5-for-9 from 3-point range.

The Huskies hit three 3s in four possessions as they took
control in he second half. They failed to put it away, however, by
going 3-for-10 from the free-throw line in the final 4:30 and were
10-for-19 for the game.

The win was the 400th at Connecticut for coach Jim Calhoun, who
is in his 18th season at the school. He has a career mark of
648-296.

Calhoun said the Huskies can expect to see a lot of different
offenses and defenses as the season goes along and if his team
doesn't come out at the start with the intensity it did to start
the second half, "We're a celebration waiting to happen."

It was Connecticut's 11th straight win over Yale and its 52nd in
a row over an instate opponent.

The Huskies played without heralded freshman Charlie Villanueva
who is being held out pending NCAA eligibility questions.

"We hope to know possibly by our next game exactly where he
stands," Calhoun said.