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Late surge helps UConn avoid upset, stop skid

UConn’s Roscoe Smith, top, who hit two critical free throws late, runs into Aaron Geramipoor on a first-half drive to the basket.

Associated Press

UConn’s Roscoe Smith, top, who hit two critical free throws late, runs into Aaron Geramipoor on a first-half drive to the basket.

NEWARK, N.J. — Jim Calhoun has never been one to shy away from letting his players know how he's feeling about their effort.

And while the Hall of Famer was mixing and matching his young Connecticut team trying to find a way to make up a 10-point deficit with eight minutes to play against Seton Hall, he got his point across about the need to play some great defense if the sixth-ranked Huskies were to avoid a third straight loss.

"I did challenge them on the sidelines a couple of times, really challenged them about what they were doing or not doing and the effort they were not giving," Calhoun said. "I didn't want to hear a damn excuse — I didn't use that word exactly. 'I hear one excuse and I will put you on the bench so hard that you'll still be here when we come back here next year. This game is winnable.' And then they did it."

With Calhoun's words and threat fresh in their minds, the Huskies closed the game on a 15-3 run to overcome the big deficit and win 61-59 on Saturday night, their 11th consecutive win over the Pirates.

What made the win more remarkable was that Kemba Walker, the Big East's leading scorer, had another tough game shooting and missed three free throws when he was fouled attempting a 3 in the deciding run.

Walker finished with 19 points, 4.4 fewer than his average, on 7-of-19 shooting. But he hit the 3-pointer with 2:32 to play that capped a 12-1 run and gave the Huskies (18-4, 6-4) their first lead of the second half.

"I can't ever remember doing that," Walker, an 82 percent free-throw shooter, said of his hat trick. "That was a great effort, that's all it was. With seven minutes left, we just clamped down."

NO. 2 KANSAS 86, NEBRASKA 66: Brady Morningstar had a season-high 19 points and made five 3-pointers for the visiting Jayhawks (22-1, 7-1 Big 12), who had a season-best 13 3s.

NO. 3 TEXAS 76, TEXAS TECH 60: Jordan Hamilton and Gary Johnson had 16 points each for the host Longhorns (20-3, 8-0), off to their best start ever in the Big 12.

NO. 4 PITT 71, CINCINNATI 59: Ashton Gibbs tied a career high with 25 points for the host Panthers (21-2, 9-1), who took advantage of a Bearcats team playing without suspended forward Yancy Gates.

NO. 5 DUKE 76, N.C. STATE 52: Nolan Smith scored 18 of his 20 during the decisive first half for the host Blue Devils (21-2, 8-1) as the top team in the ACC had little trouble with one of its worst.

NO. 8 BYU 78, UNLV 64: Jimmer Fredette had 16 of his 29 points from the free-throw line as the host Cougars (22-2, 8-1 Mountain West) swept the season series. Fredette became the conference career leader with 2,194 points.

NO. 12 VILLANOVA 66, NO. 25 W. VA. 50: Maalik Wayns had 17 points for the host Wildcats (19-4, 7-3 Big East), who got hot late after a sluggish first 30 minutes. Kevin Jones had 16 points for the Mountaineers (15-7, 6-4).

NO. 13 G'TOWN 83, PROVIDENCE 81: The host Hoyas (18-5, 7-4 Big East) nearly blew an 18-point second-half lead and overcame Marshon Brooks' 43 points to win their sixth straight game. Brooks had the fifth most points ever in a conference game.

NO. 14 MISSOURI 89, COLO. 73: Kim English busted a scoring slump with 21 points, and the Tigers (18-5, 4-4 Big 12) forced the Buffaloes into a season-worst 23 turnovers to improve to 14-0 at home.

NO. 15 LOUISVILLE 61, DEPAUL 57: Kyle Kuric had 19 points, including a big 3-pointer with just more than two minutes left, and the host Cardinals (18-5, 7-3 Big East) bounced back from a tough loss at Georgetown on Monday.

BAYLOR 76, NO. 16 TEXAS A&M 74, OT: Anthony Jones' layup with 3.1 seconds left in overtime lifted the visiting Bears, who handed the Aggies (17-5, 4-4 Big 12) their fourth loss in five games.

OREGON 81, NO. 20 WASH. 76: Joevan Catron had 20 points and nine rebounds for the host Ducks, and the Huskies (15-7, 7-4 Pac-10) lost their third straight game in a week.

NO. 21 ARIZ. 107, CAL 105, 3 OT: Lamont Jones hit a go-ahead lay-in with 1:03 left in the third overtime and also had a tying 3-pointer with five seconds to go in the second and the tying three-point play late in regulation, lifting the visiting Wildcats (20-4, 9-2 Pac-10).

NO. 22 UTAH ST. 77, BOISE ST. 49: Tai Wesley had 22 points to lead the host Aggies (22-2, 11-0 WAC) to their 17th straight win.

NO. 23 VANDY 78, S.C. 60: John Jenkins had 18 points and the host Commodores (16-6, 4-4) snapped a two-game skid to stay in the SEC East race.

State

MIAMI 70, UVA 68, OT: Rion Brown made three free throws to tie the score with 13.7 seconds left in regulation, and the host Hurricanes (14-9, 3-6 ACC) made 17 of 22 free throws to 9 of 22 for the Cavaliers.

ECU 68, UCF 61: Jontae Sherrod had 23 points for the host Pirates, who sent the Knights (14-7, 1-7 C-USA) to their seventh straight loss.

TAMPA 65, LYNN 62: Rashad Callaway had 20 points as the host Spartans (18-4, 7-4 Sunshine State) rallied to snap a three-game losing streak.

ROLLINS 71, ECKERD 60: Myk Brown had 13 of his 22 points in the second half for the visiting Tars, who swept the season series from the Tritons (15-6, 6-5 SSC).

Late surge helps UConn avoid upset, stop skid 02/05/11 [Last modified: Sunday, February 6, 2011 12:08am]
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