<
>

Okafor has 14 boards despite foul trouble

11/21/2003

STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Ben Gordon was well on his way to a career
night when the sellout crowd at Gampel Pavilion started chanting
"You can't stop him" with 14 minutes to play.

Nevada needed no reminder.

Gordon scored a career-high 37 points Wednesday night to lead
the Huskies to a 93-79 victory over Nevada and into the semifinals
of the Preseason NIT.

"Ben was doing all the scoring, the cheerleading. It was the
B.G. show tonight. The Ben Gordon showcase," teammate and roommate
Emeka Okafor said.

Okafor finished with 14 rebounds and Denham Brown had a
career-high 22 points for the Huskies (2-0), who will play the
winner of Thursday's Georgia Tech-Hofstra second-round game. The
semifinals are in Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 26.

Unhappy with his 13-point performance in UConn's 70-60 win over
Yale on Monday in the tournament opener, Gordon said he came in
better mentally prepared against Nevada.

"I just sat in my room and meditated," Gordon said. "I wanted
to have a better performance and be more assertive."

No matter what player Nevada put on Gordon, he had his way all
night in front of a crowd of 10,167.

"I don't think it really would have mattered how they played
me," Gordon said. "I just had the right mindset today."

Gordon was 12-of-20 from the field and hit all four of his
3-point attempts, rescuing the Huskies time and again from the
stubborn Wolf Pack (1-1). With Gordon out after picking up his
third foul, Nevada cut a 15-point deficit to nine on Todd Okeson's
3-pointer with three minutes to play in the game.

Enter Gordon.

The junior coolly stroked a 3-pointer and the Huskies had all
the breathing room they would need. Brown converted a three-point
play on the Huskies' next possession to cap the scoring.

"It's nice to see him have some confidence," UConn coach Jim
Calhoun said of Gordon, whose previous career high was 32 points
against Miami last season. "When he gets going, he's unstoppable.
Time ran out for him to get 50. He was on that kind of a roll."

Okafor finished with 13 points and had solid help in the post
from freshman Josh Boone, who finished with eight points and 11
rebounds. The Huskies dominated inside, outscoring Nevada 42-28 in
the paint and had a 42-29 rebounding edge.

Kirk Snyder led Nevada with 22 points and Okeson added 16.

"When you play against someone of this caliber, if you make a
mistake or two, they make you pay for it," Nevada coach Trent
Johnson said. "Bottom line is that Coach Calhoun has not got a
good team, he's got a great team."

The Huskies didn't look good early, trailing by as many as seven
points. But the game turned after Calhoun drew a technical foul
when Okafor was called for his second foul with 7:52 remaining in
the first half. The move fired up the Huskies, who had been
clinging to a two-point lead.

"I wasn't trying to get a technical," Calhoun said. "If they
sense there's an urgency on my behalf I think that does feed over.
From that point on we didn't trail."

With Okafor on the bench the rest of the half, Gordon took over.
He scored 13 points in a 20-12 run and Connecticut led by as many
as nine before taking a 43-37 halftime lead.

"Nevada is a really good team and really gave us a healthy
test," Calhoun said. "And that's what the Preseason NIT is all
about."