The past two seasons, the UConn Huskies men’s basketball team has struggled in it’s season opening game. Tonight, they looked to erase that and did just that as they easily dispatched of the Western Carolina Catamounts 81-55 in front of 9,820 at Gampel Pavilion.

Hasheem Thabeet blocks yet another shotThe Catamounts had no one to guard Hasheem Thabeet (he enjoyed a 7″ size advantage) and it showed as he torched them for 23 points and 17 rebounds. He also had 5 blocked shots. Jerome Dyson had a great night as well as he had 23 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists while Jeff Adrien added 14 points and 7 rebounds. Kemba Walker had 8 points and 5 assists in his UConn debut.

A.J. Price was held scoreless in the game and was ejected with 7:29 left in the game when he got tangled up with Western Carolina’s Joey Parker and threw a punch into the stomach of Parker. Price will most likely be suspended for the next game and will have to watch himself over the course of the season. He also gave Jim Calhoun and the Huskies faithful a scare in the 1st half when he had to leave the court after coming down on a Catamount’s player’s ankle. He returned to a loud ovation just 3 minutes later.

Brandon Giles led the Catamounts with 16 points and 5 rebounds. Harouna Mutombo chipped in with 11 points and Jake Robinson added 10 for the visitors.

UConn got off to a quick start as they scored the first 13 points of the game before a Robinson three pointer with 14:43 to go in the 1st half got the Catamounts on the board. This was as close as Western Carolina would get in the first half as the Huskies would enjoy a 40-25 advantage at halftime.

It was more of the same for the Huskies as an 11-0 run in the second half would push their lead to 26 points and they never looked back from there.

The Hartford Hawks are up next for the Huskies on Monday night at 7:00 PM at the XL Center.

Notes and musings:

Western Carolina @ UConn 11.14.08 box score

The Huskies received good news before the game as the NCAA let them know that Charles Okwandu had been cleared to play. He didn’t score in 5 minutes of action.

The Huskies have not lost a regular season game in Storrs in November or December since Dec. 5, 1973.

Western Carolina’s Harouna Mutombo is the nephew of Dikembe Mutombo.

The 17 rebounds for Thabeet is a new career-high.

The Huskies outscored the Catamounts 44-18 in the paint.

UConn outrebounded the Catamounts 42-31.

UConn shot 50.9% (28-of-55) from the floor while holding the Catamounts to 34.4% (21-61).

The Huskies shot 21-of-30 (70%) from the charity stripe. I know it’s the first game but this needs to improve as the season goes.

UConn forced 17 turnovers while committing 14 of their own.