STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon are gone, but
Connecticut's latest inside-outside combination showed it can be
just as potent.
It was the season opener for both teams as the Huskies (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today; No. 8 AP) began defense of their NCAA title, overpowering Buffalo early with
strong post play and a crisp transition game.
"We just came out and played hard. We played Connecticut
basketball," Anderson said.
The Huskies wasted little time putting this one away. Boone and
Anderson combined for 11 points in UConn's opening 13-2 run. The
Bulls got their first basket in the first minute then went
scoreless over the next five.
"We really jumped into them, took away their dribble screens
and offense that they run so well," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said.
"Obviously, we did a wonderful job of that in the first half."
Buffalo, a preseason favorite in the Mid-American Conference,
didn't make consecutive baskets until there were five minutes left
in the first half. The Huskies led by as many as 24 and took a
47-24 lead at halftime, holding the Bulls to 25.8 percent shooting.
UConn outrebounded Buffalo 56-27, led by Boone's 11 boards. He
and Charlie Villanueva each blocked four shots. The Huskies'
frontcourt combined for 38 points and 30 rebounds.
Turner Battle led the Bulls with 14 points and Roderick
Middleton chipped in with 13.
Buffalo coach Reggie Witherspoon discovered quickly his concerns
about the defending champs were well-founded.
"We came in concerned about their ability to run the floor and
their ability to rebound the basketball," Witherspoon said. "We
didn't get surprised. We didn't respond well enough to get it
Boone emerged as the ultimate cleanup guy around the rim. Most
of his 18 points, a career high, came off putbacks and offensive
"I just try to never stop playing," Boone said. "Even though
I missed the shot, I knew the rebound was going to be there."
The 6-foot-10 sophomore also dazzled in transition.
Trailing on a long outlet pass from Marcus Williams to Rudy Gay,
Boone fielded Gay's over-the-back pass in full stride and
punctuated the play with a rim-rattling dunk midway through the
first half that brought the crowd to its feet.
"It was a good heads up pass by Marcus to get the ball ahead
and then Rudy caught it and made a great play to save it and I just
happened to be there to finish," said Boone, who turns 20 on
UConn played sloppier in the second half and finished with 23
turnovers as Buffalo picked up its defensive pressure.
"They pressured us and some of our guys gave in to pressure,"
Calhoun said. "Feeding the post became and adventure, running the
fastbreak became an adventure.
Calhoun said he expects to work out some of that when the team
leaves Sunday for a four-game exhibition tour through the United
"Hopefully we'll get some of that squared away," he said.