Huskies Too Much

  • January 06, 2009 09:32 PM
  • |
By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
January 6, 2009

#5 UConn 61, #25 West Virginia 55
wvu coliseum
Morgantown, w.va.
UConn 29 32 61
West Virginia 29 26 55
Stat Comparison
FG Made-Att 21-53 20-66
FG Percentage 39.6% 30.3%
3P Made-Att 1-8 6-26
3P Percentage 12.5% 23.1%
FT Made-Att 18-27 9-12
FT Percentage 66.7% 75.0%
Rebounds 52 33
Turnovers 18 8
Top WVU Players
Top Scorer
Top Scorer
 Alex Ruoff
13 Points
Da'Sean Butler
13 Points

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – No. 5 Connecticut’s inside game was just too powerful for No. 25 West Virginia Tuesday night in Morgantown.

The Huskies (13-1, 2-1) got 17 points from Jeff Adrien and 13 points and 13 rebounds from 7-foot-3-inch center Hasheem Thabeet to pull out a 61-55 victory over the Mountaineers. Stanley Robinson grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds as Connecticut dominated the glass with 52 rebounds – 20 of which were offensive.

"They are a foot taller than we are," said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. "I told you guys for the last three-four weeks that we're getting unbelievable mileage out of three freshmen. I told you before the game that now we're playing against men - 22-year-old guys who are a lot bigger and stronger, but we competed."

"We have beaten Gonzaga and Wisconsin this year and some pretty good people, but I would describe that as our best win," said Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun. "Against Wisconsin we played terrific and against Miami we played terrific. But that was as hard as we have played all year and we had to play hard to beat West Virginia."

UConn’s work in the paint offset an off-shooting night from Husky guard A.J. Price, who went 0-9, and Connecticut was 21 of 53 overall for 39.6 percent.

West Virginia (11-3, 1-1) was worse, hitting 20 of its 66 shot attempts for 30.6 percent. The Mountaineers tried 26 3s, making only six for 23.1 percent.

Despite a cold shooting night, West Virginia used tough half court defense to stick with the Huskies by forcing 18 turnovers. After Wellington Smith’s deep 3 tied the game just before the halftime buzzer, the two teams played a see-saw second half, trading leads until a pair of free throws by Truck Bryant and a fast-break dunk by Smith gave the Mountaineers a four-point lead.

Calhoun immediately called a 30-second timeout and UConn responded with five straight points to retake the lead, 45-44.

Da’Sean Butler’s 3-point basket gave the Mountaineers their final lead of the game at 47-45; Connecticut answered with seven straight points to take its biggest lead of five points with 6:02 remaining.

Trailing 56-51, West Virginia got a driving lay up from Cam Thoroughman and a pair of free throws by Bryant to pull within one, 56-55, with 2:27 remaining.

Despite open looks the Mountaineers could not connect down the stretch, missing all five shot attempts. There were 12 lead changes and eight ties for the game.

"These typical Bobby Huggins teams ... they just come at you and if you think you have them put away - you are wrong because they are going to make a hustle play and dive for a loose ball," said Calhoun.

In addition to its 52-33 advantage on the glass, the Huskies also had an 18-9 edge in free throws.

West Virginia’s top three scorers Alex Ruoff, Butler and Bryant were a combined 12 of 40.

Butler and Ruoff finished with 13, while Bryant added 11 points and seven assists. Wellington Smith scored 9 points and pulled down eight rebounds.

Jerome Dyson scored 11 and Kemba Walker contributed 10 for the Huskies.

"I've coached almost 900 games and there's not much going to happen that I haven't seen," said Huggins. "(Connecticut) can make more mistakes than we can. They can do that because they have guys who can erase mistakes. They can miss shots. They're bigger and stronger. They've got a whole bunch of veteran guys - and not just veterans - but real good veteran guys."

West Virginia has another difficult assignment on Saturday at No. 18 Marquette. Tip off is set for noon.