Just two days after an emotional win at Indiana, the UConn Huskies were back on the court again and engaged themselves in a tough Big East battle. Again, the Huskies came out top as they were able to withstand a late run from the Louisville Cardinals to win 69-67 at the XL Center on Monday night.
After forcing a turnover on Craig Austrie with 24 seconds left in the game, Louisville (15-6, 5-3 Big East) came down the court with a chance to tie or win the game. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Juan Palacios’ 3-pointer was long and the rebound was tipped by Hasheem Thabeet over to Austrie as the clock ran out.
Call it the “hangover” effect or whatever you want as UConn (15-5, 5-3) got off to a slow start in the first half as Louisville got out to a 7-0 lead. UConn finally got on the board at the 15:46 mark when Stanley Robinson hit a jumper. Down 10-2, UConn went on a 8-0 run to tie it up at 10. The Huskies got their first lead of the game when Robinson hit another jumper to put UConn up 12-11.
With the score tied at 15, the Cardinals went on a 7-0 run before the Huskies battled back with a 6-0 run to get within one. The two teams went into the locker rooms at the XL Center tied at 30.
Austrie made sure the Huskies faithful didn’t have to stand for a long time in the second half as his jumper gave the Huskies a lead. The teams would exchange baskets for a few minutes. With UConn leading 41-40, they went on a 17-8 spurt that was capped off by a Hasheem Thabeet dunk in which he was fouled by Derrick Caracter.
At this point, it seemed as though the Huskies ran out of gas as you might expect after playing shorthanded on Saturday. Louisville got back into the game and tied it at 61 when they went on a 13-3 run of their own. An ally-oop dunk from Thabeet gave the Huskies a 67-63 lead. Jerry Smith hit a 3 to get Louisville within 2 points at 69-67 and that’s the way the scoreboard looked at the end of the game.
A.J. Price led the way for UConn with 20 points. He also pulled down 7 boards and had 4 assists. Robinson chipped with a double-double as he scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds while Jeff Adrien had a double-double of his own with 12 points and 10 boards as well. Austrie and Thabeet both added 9 points to the cause.
Louisville was paced by Palacios with 16 points. David Padgett was the only other Cardinal in double digits as he has 12 points. Edgar Sosa and Terrence Williams added 7 points while the trio of Andre McGee, Jerry Smith and Caracter added 6 points. Williams also had a team-high 7 rebounds.
Another great win for the surging Huskies who have now won 4 in a row and have seemed to overcome their hex on national television. Stay tuned during the week about the status of Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins (more on them in the notes).
The Huskies will go for their 5th straight win on Saturday when the #21 Pitt Panthers come to the XL Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 PM and the game will be televised nationally on CBS. Verne Lundquist and Billy Packer will have the call.
Notes and musings:
The starters were A.J. Price, Craig Austrie, Stanley Robinson, Jeff Adrien and Hasheem Thabeet.
The Huskies sported their alternate gray jersey tonight.
Former Boston Celtics player Walter McCarty is an assistant coach for the Cardinals.
Jim Calhoun and Rick Pitino matched up as head coaches for the 17th time tonight and the Huskies and Cardinals have split the four match-ups between the two as BIG EAST members.
Police found marijuana in the vicinity of the Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins incident but they will not be charged with any crimes related to the maryjane.
“Marijuana was involved,” UConn Police Maj. Ronald Blicher said. “They were not charged, but a small amount of marijuana was found at the scene. ….. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was abandoned, but upon officers checking with the occupants of the vehicle, marijuana was found in the vicinity of the car.”
“Unless Mr. Dyson or Mr. Wiggins walks through my door and says, ‘I forgot ….. that was mine.’ We would not and should not charge anyone with possession unless we can actually establish possession.”
Pitino still lives on the three as his team attempted 32 of them in the game. They made 11. UConn only attempted eleven 3’s all game, making three of them.
UConn shot 43.6% (24-55) while Louisville shot 40.7% (24-59).
Another good night at the line for the Huskies as they were 18-of-23 (78.3%). On the other hand Louisville was 8-of-14 (57.1%).
UConn won the battle of the boards 39-29.
Both teams controlled the ball well as UConn committed 10 turnovers and Louisville had 7.
UConn had 30 points in the paint compared to Louisville’s 16.