UConn coach Jim Calhoun lets his frustrations show during a close game with upstart on Tuesday night at Gampel Pavilion. The young Huskies had to come back from a nine-point deficit midway through the second half, but they eventually prevailed, 76-67 - John Woike/Hartford Courant

One of these days the UConn Huskies men’s basketball team is going to put head coach Jim Calhoun in the cardiac wing named after him.

After a strong second half last night, the Huskies continued that in the first half before forgetting how to play again. This time they got lucky though as Jerome Dyson hit all but one of his free throws down the stretch as UConn escaped with a 76-67 win over the Hofstra Pride in the second round of the Preseason NIT Tip-off at Gampel Pavilion on Tuesday night.

The Huskies (3-0) now advance to the semifinals on November 25th at Madison Square Garden where they will take on the LSU Tigers. Hofstra (1-2) has also lost to No. 1 Kansas this year.

Stanley Robinson and Jerome Dyson of UConn breathe a sigh of relief as the Huskies held off stubborn Hofstra for a 76-67 victory on Tuesday at Gampel Pavilion. Dyson led the Huskies with 23 points, including nine in a row late, and Robinson added 15 - John Woike/Hartford CourantDyson, one of four Huskies in double figures led the way  scoring 15 of his 23 points in the final 7:11 of the game. He also had three rebounds, four assists and two steals. Stanley Robinson had 15 points while point guard Kemba Walker had 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. Gavin Edwards rounded out the Huskies in double digits with 10 points and also had five blocked shots.

Freshman Alex Oriakhi led the Huskies with 14 rebounds to go along with eight points and four blocked shots.

The Pride were paced by Charles Jenkins’ 25 points and eight assists, three steals and three blocks. Cornelius Vines scored all 18 of his points on six three-pointers.

UConn went into the break with a seven point lead at 30-23. The lead bounced down as low as three points and not higher than seven over the first five minutes of the second half. The  Pride then began to chip away at the lead as they got hot from behind the arc.

Hofstra took its first lead with 11:12 to go in the game at 45-43 on a Jenkins three. After an Oriakhi layup, the Pride rattled in two straight threes, the first by Halil Kanacevc and the second by Jenkins to take a 51-45 lead and forced Calhoun to call a timeout.

Vines hit another three with 9:10 to go to put the Pride up by nine points and it looked as though they could pull off the upset. The Huskies were resilient though as Robinson responded with a three pointer and started to chip back at the lead.

Hofstra’s last lead of the game came at the 4:35 mark at 62-61.Then the senior shooting guard from Potomac, Maryland (Dyson) stepped us game and put his team and on his back. Dyson looked like a man possessed carrying the Huskies over the final 4:35 of the game.

One thing’s for certain. If the Huskies continue to play like this, they aren’t going to get very far. They’ve always had problems against the zone on offense and teams continue to exploit that weakness. Plus there perimeter defense was sub-par as Hofstra hit 9 three pointers and that’s what almost cost the Huskies a win.

They will need to play much better against LSU to have any shot. The good this is that they’ll have a week to prepare. You can bet Calhoun will have them ready to play on the big stage in New York next Wednesday night.

Notes and musings:

Hofstra Pride @ UConn Huskies 11.17.09 box score

The starters were Kemba Walker, Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson, Gavin Edwards and Alex Oriakhi.

UConn didn’t shoot the ball all that well from the floor. They were 22-of-53 (41.5%). They held Hofstra to 32.9% (24-of-73).

Nine of Hofstra’s 24 baskets came from beyond the arc while the Huskies made two-of-eight.

I always harp on free throw shooting being the key to winning games and the Huskies showed it’s true. They were 30-of-36 (83.3%) with Dyson going 14-of-15. Kemba Walker (6-of-6) and Gavin Edwards (4-of-4) were perfect from the free throw line.

In something that you don’t see too often department, the Huskies were actually outrebounded 39-35. This is the second time in three games that this has happened to them.

The Huskies blocked 13 shots and had just ten turnovers. Hofstra had only eleven turnovers.

Hofstra outscored UConn 30-16 on the fast break.

The Huskies stayed perfect (50-0) in November and December games at Gampel.

UConn has won 29 straight games against non-conference opponents at Gampel.