STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Forget revenge or first place. The one
thing that kept coming up after Connecticut (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 3 AP) beat No. 2 Villanova was toughness.
After the Huskies' 89-75 victory Sunday left everybody in Gampel
Pavilion drained whether they played or watched, coaches and
players talked about the attitude and style that has become the
trademark of the Big East.
"This was an advertisement for how hard the teams in this
league play," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. "Increasing our
toughness was one thing I thought we had to do. We knew we could
score, but we had to show we could come up with that kind of game
like we had other times this season."
And it wasn't Connecticut's stars who let the Huskies avenge the
loss that knocked them from No. 1 and moved them into a tie for
first in the conference.
"This game was really a big game for us, a statement," Adrien
said. "They got real happy after that first win and we had to shut
their mouths. Today we had to go out there and show them we're not
what they think we are. We are men out there."
The Huskies (25-2, 12-2) took control of this game with an 18-3
run in the second half.
Brown, a senior swingman, had a career-high 23 points on
8-for-13 shooting. He had a total of 18 points in the Huskies' last
three games, the first of which was the loss to Villanova (22-3,
12-2) that ended an 11-game winning streak.
The Wildcats came into this game with 11 straight wins.
"We're tougher than a lot of people give us credit for," Brown
said. "This was a game we had a bull's eye on for the last two
Anderson, the leading non-starting scorer in the country at 13.5
points per game, had 17 points and was 5-for-7 from 3-point range.
Armstrong, the senior center who anchors the best shot-blocking
team in the nation, had nine points and eight of the Huskies' 11
Then there was Adrien, the freshman forward, who had eight
points and nine rebounds and came up with several big plays in the
"All of a sudden the game changed when Jeff Adrien got in it,"
Calhoun said. "That was something for a freshman to express his
emotion the way he did."
Allan Ray had 19 points for Villanova, but the senior guard left
the game with just under 3 minutes to play with an injury to his
left knee. He was taken to the locker room and came back with his
knee wrapped in ice.
Ray, who said he slipped on a wet spot, said he would have an
MRI on Monday. But he walked out of Gampel Pavilion with a wrap on
his knee and without a limp.
"They were on the top of every aspect of their game,"
Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "We will learn from this. You've
got to beat the best team in their own house."
Randy Foye added 18 points for the Wildcats and Mike Nardi had
14. Will Sheridan, the star of Villanova's win over UConn with 13
points and 10 rebounds, had nine points and 11 rebounds. All but
one of his rebounds was on the offensive end where Villanova had 24
of its 38 rebounds.
"We pretty much expected it," Sheridan said of the physical
game. "UConn comes out and plays hard every night. So do we. We
knew it was going to be a battle. I felt it was like two of the top
teams in the Big East going at it."
The Huskies shot 54.5 percent for the game (30-for-55),
including 68.2 percent in the second half (15-for-22).
Ray made two free throws after he was fouled by Armstrong on a
breakaway midway through the second half. The foul was called
intentional and Ray scored on a drive on the ensuing possession for
a 54-53 lead with 10:45 to go.
Ray picked up his fourth foul 25 seconds later and that's when
the Huskies started their big run.
Anderson hit two 3s and Adrien had two baskets, the second on an
offensive rebound, a big steal that led to the first of Anderson's
3s and a defensive rebound that he snatched away from three
Villanova players on the Wildcats' third shot of a possession.
"That was some rebound," Calhoun said. "There wasn't anybody
who was going to take that ball from him."
Brown's three-point play on a fast-break dunk capped the run and
gave Connecticut a 71-57 lead with 5:15 to go.
"Plays like that have to be made by myself to get the team and
the crowd going," Brown said.
Calhoun called it a statement play.
"Sometimes a dunk isn't always worth just two points," he
The win improved Connecticut to 9-1 this season against ranked
teams, the lone loss to Villanova.
There is the possibility the teams could meet again, maybe in
the Big East tournament or in the NCAAs.
"The only place down the road I want to see them is in
Indianapolis at the Final Four," Calhoun said. "They come loaded
and knock you down. That is a great team with heart."
"I really don't want to see them again but if we play them
again it will be a big game," he said.