Louisville 80

(18-11, 6-10 Big East)

(2) Connecticut 84

(27-2, 14-2 Big East)

    2:00 PM ET, March 4, 2006

    XL Center, Hartford, Connecticut

    1 2 T
    LOU 37 4380
    #2CONN 37 4784

    Top Performers

    Louisville: J. Palacios 29 Pts, 5 Reb, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Connecticut: H. Armstrong 10 Pts, 4 Reb, 1 Ast, 9 Blk

    Williams lifts No. 2 UConn to share of Big East title

    STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Rashad Anderson took Connecticut's latest trophy on a quick road trip.

    Minutes after the second-ranked Huskies beat Louisville 84-80 on Saturday to clinch at least a share of the Big East regular season championship, the senior swingman took the hardware into the student section at Gampel Pavilion and let the fans pass it around.

    "I wanted to let them feel the trophy too," Anderson said. "They mean a lot to us with all the support they give us. I'm going to miss this place."

    The Huskies' latest Big East regular season title -- this was the 10th they have won or shared -- was a struggle right to the end. Marcus Williams went 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the final 48 seconds to clinch Connecticut's fifth straight win overall and 16th of 17.

    "The Big East championship means a lot to us," said coach Jim Calhoun, who has been in charge for all of them. "If you can go through 16 games in this league and have to go to the places you do and beat the teams you have to beat, it's really tough. This is a terrific league and to come through it 14-2, I couldn't be prouder of our kids."

    Connecticut, which was No. 1 in The Associated Press' Top 25 for four weeks before losing to Villanova on Feb. 13, could move back to the top of the poll since No. 1 Duke lost at Florida State on Wednesday.

    Denham Brown had 17 points and 11 rebounds in his final home game for the Huskies, who finished 16-0 at home this season. They were 10-0 at the Hartford Civic Center and 6-0 at on-campus Gampel Pavilion where they played Saturday.

    Rashad Anderson and Hilton Armstrong, two other seniors, had big games. Anderson finished with 15 points and Armstrong had 10 points and a career-high nine blocked shots.

    "I just said to them `I've been in a room with some talented teams and some teams that bordered on greatness, but I don't know if I've been in a room before with so many kids that have sacrificed so much," Calhoun said of his postgame talk. "This is the epitome of what a basketball team is all about. Watching kids grow -- Rashad, Denham, Hilton -- that's what college basketball is all about."

    Anderson faked being shocked when told what Calhoun said.

    "Coach Calhoun said something good about us?" he asked. "It will all be back to the nitty gritty on Monday."

    The Huskies will play in the first quarterfinal game of the Big East tournament on Thursday against the winner of the opening-round game between Syracuse and Cincinnati.

    Juan Palacios had a career-high 29 points for the Cardinals (18-11, 6-10), who had already clinched a berth in next week's Big East tournament. This was Louisville's first season in the Big East and the Cardinals came in off a Final Four appearance last year and were ranked No. 7 in the preseason AP poll.

    They played Saturday more like the team that was considered a national contender than the one that struggled to be one of the 12 teams to reach New York.

    "That was an extremely disappointing loss for us, about as disappointing as we've had," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "To play such good basketball and come away empty-handed is an empty feeling to say the least. We played well enough to get a `W' and we didn't."

    Pitino said a win could have put the Cardinals back in the picture for a possible at-large berth in the NCAA tournament.

    "Look at Florida State and us and we're pretty much in the same ballgame," he said. "They beat Duke at home and all of a sudden they're on the bubble. If we beat Connecticut on the road, we're there because of all the quality wins we've had. It's extremely disappointing."

    Palacios, a sophomore forward who came in averaging 10.1 points per game, tied the game for the final time at 78 with two free throws with 54 seconds left.

    Williams, who had 11 points and seven assists, then started his free throw run, making two with 48 seconds left.

    Brown stole a pass made by Taquan Dean and Williams added two more with 30 seconds to play. Terrance Farley scored down low 9 seconds later to make it a two-point game.

    Williams, who was 7-for-7 from the line for the game, made his last two with 15 seconds left and Louisville struggled to get off a shot with Palacios missing a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.

    "I stole that," Brown said when asked if the ball slipped out of Dean's hands for the big turnover when it was a two-point game. "I didn't know he was going to pass it, but I saw it in the air and I knew I could grab it so I did."

    The Connecticut senior class has a 106-26 record with three Big East regular season titles, one conference tournament title and the 2004 national championship.

    "Two in four years at a school of this caliber," Brown said when asked about a possible second national title, "it's the day and age that we are in right now that two in four years is really unheard of."

    Dean added 17 points for Louisville, which was outrebounded 39-32 but came up with 18 offensive rebounds. The Cardinals forced Connecticut into 17 turnovers, 12 in the first half.

    The Huskies shot 50 percent for the game from the field (26-for-52), and they were 21-for-25 from the line in the second half.

    "It's just about winning at this stage," Pitino said. "Now we have to get to the [Big East] finals and that won't be easy to do."

    Connecticut won the earlier meeting with Louisville this season, 71-58 on Jan. 21.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 80 84
    FG Made-Attempted 23-67 (.343) 26-52 (.500)
    3P Made-Attempted 10-27 (.370) 5-14 (.357)
    FT Made-Attempted 24-27 (.889) 27-36 (.750)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 26 (0/0) 19 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 6 8

    2005-06 Season

    Jan 21, 2006 CONN 71, @LOU 58Recap
    » Mar 4, 2006 @CONN 84, LOU 80Recap