STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No. 23 AP) had the answers inside and
outside for the smaller but scrappy St. John's Red Storm.
Rashad Anderson scored 21 points, Denham Brown added 17 nearly
all from the wing, and Josh Boone blocked a career-high nine shots
to lead Connecticut to a 68-46 victory on Saturday.
"I told Denham we've got to take this game over and got to
start getting some easy baskets," Anderson said. "We have to play
every game like it's our last."
The No. 23 Huskies (14-5, 6-3 Big East) were outrebounded for
just the second time this season (41-40), but came up big
everywhere else, especially on defense. The Huskies combined for 17
blocks, matching their second-highest total blocks for the season.
"We played magnificent defense," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said.
"The 17 blocked shots certainly can be very discouraging for
The Red Storm (8-11, 2-7) shot just 27 percent in their lowest
scoring game of the season, going nearly 11 minutes without a field
goal in the second half and was 0-12 from 3-point range.
"Their length really bothered us," St. John's coach Norm
Roberts said. "We had some easy putbacks and shots that didn't
roll in for us. They were extremely physical, pushing and not
letting you get where you want to be."
St. John's has lost seven of its last nine and is still looking
for its first conference road win in two years.
Daryll Hill, the Big East's top scorer, led St. John's with 22
points and Eugene Lawrence grabbed 10 boards.
Boone finished with seven points and eight boards, all on the
defensive end. UConn forward Rudy Gay finished with nine points and
a career-high five blocked shots.
The Huskies opened with a 5-0 run and never trailed but had to
battle hard inside all game. The Red Storm repeatedly stripped the
UConn big men once they got the ball and the Huskies' response was
to kick it outside. Anderson and Brown were waiting and had four of
UConn's six 3-pointers in the game. Their perimeter offense helped
counter nearly every Red Storm threat.
"They were the scoring answer for us tonight," Boone said.
"(St. John's) was sending a lot of guys inside as soon as we were
getting the ball. "
Hill's floater 7:43 before halftime pulled the Red Storm within
one at 20-19, but the Huskies quickly countered to open up an
11-point lead at the break. They pounded the ball inside to Boone
on the next two possessions and he made three of four foul shots,
then Anderson followed with a 3-pointer for a 26-21 lead. Hilton
Armstrong's layup with 37 seconds left gave UConn a 34-23 advantage
at the half.
Hill and Dexter Gray opened the second half with transition
buckets for the Red Storm, but that was their last semblance of
momentum. The Huskies went on a 15-3 run and the Red Storm missed
their next 19 shots.
"That's a credit to our defense," Boone said. "We saw that it
was going to be a different kind of game than we're used to, so we
focused on trying to shut them down."
When Hill finally hit the team's next field goal with 8:15
remaining, the Huskies were cruising with a 49-32 lead.
The Red Storm lead the series 32-22, but Connecticut has won six
of the last eight meetings. The Huskies also avoided looking past
St. John's to their next two opponents -- No. 8 Syracuse on Monday
and No. 2 North Carolina on Sunday.
"St. John's played us as hard as we thought they would. I was
scared of this being a trap," Calhoun said. "With kids, you can't
hide the schedule from them."