(7) DePaul 55

(22-10, 12-4 C-USA)

(2) Connecticut 72

(29-6, 12-4 Big East)

    8:00 PM ET, March 20, 2004

    1 2 T
    #7DEP 20 3555
    #2CONN 39 3372

    Calhoun, DePaul can't stomach UConn's rout

    BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- This victory had Jim Calhoun feeling a little sick.

    The Connecticut coach left the bench with an upset stomach midway through the second half Saturday night with his Huskies in command, then returned just in time to see the end of their 72-55 victory over DePaul in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

    DePaul and UConn had never played each other, but Calhoun and Blue Demons coach Dave Leitao are like father and son, making the matchup difficult for both and most likely causing Calhoun's stomach woes.

    Dick Vitale's Tourney Take
    There is a lot more to this Connecticut team than just Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor. People have to realize that guys like Rashad Anderson, Taliek Brown and Denham Brown are all contributors to a very deep team. Jim Calhoun defeated his former assistant Dave Leitao by getting his team to dominate early and send a message to the Blue Demons. The Huskies are also very hungry and I feel they will make a legit run for the Final Four. In fact, pack your bags for San Antonio, Husky fans!
    More on Saturday's Games
    "It's not easy," Calhoun said. "I would love to have Dave be going someplace in another week, but that isn't the way it works. That's the only sadness."

    The two smiled as they engaged in a heartfelt embrace after the game.

    "I told him that if you're going to kick my butt, you just as soon should win the whole thing," Leitao said. "If he doesn't, I'll be madder at him than I am right now."

    Ben Gordon scored 18 points, Denham Brown had 12, Taliek Brown had 11 and Emeka Okafor had 10 points and 12 rebounds as the Huskies stunned the Blue Demons with an early surge.

    "The first half for us was pretty close to a clinic as far as running the fast break," Calhoun said. "We felt we would probably be at a disadvantage physically because they have some size, so if we could beat them up the floor great things could happen to us."

    Despite missing their first five shots, that's exactly what the Huskies did.

    Taliek Brown began an 11-point spurt with a putback, Okafor hit a hook off the glass, Taliek Brown followed with a three-point play, and Denham Brown made a layup -- all in a span of 83 seconds. And when freshman Charlie Villanueva nailed a pull-up jumper, the Blue Demons were reeling.

    "We started getting into our running game and getting into a rhythm, so then we were able to get into our sets and make the shots," said Gordon, who was recruited by Leitao. "We just wanted to come out and attack, and I think we did a good job at that."

    Connecticut (29-6), the Big East champion and second seed in the Phoenix Regional, advanced to the round of 16 for the 10th time in Calhoun's 18 years as coach and will play either North Carolina State or Vanderbilt.

    The seventh-seeded Blue Demons (22-10) survived a sloppy 76-69 double-overtime win over Dayton in the first round but squandered any chance of upsetting UConn by missing their first 10 shots -- two by each starter -- in the first six minutes.

    "We took a lot of good shots, but when you're not making those shots the defense doesn't work and that makes it even tougher," said Drake Diener, who led DePaul with 15 points. "I think our talent is close enough that we could have put on a better performance tonight even though they have more tournament experience."

    Delonte Holland and Quemont Greer each scored 12 points, and Andre Brown had 11 for DePaul.

    Leitao was recruited in 1978 by Calhoun and played for him at Northeastern. Six years later, Calhoun hired him as an assistant and they stayed together for 16 years.

    Leitao helped lead a dozen of Calhoun's teams to the NCAA Tournament, including UConn's 1999 national championship squad, before being hired by DePaul two years ago.

    In 1999, Calhoun missed a first-round win over Texas-San Antonio because of a stomach problem and was replaced by Leitao.

    "I hate it," Calhoun said Friday as he pondered a game he would rather not have coached.

    It shouldn't take too long to recover. It was UConn's fifth straight win and 10th in the last 11 games. The Huskies also kept Calhoun's record perfect in seven games against his former coaches.

    Diener finally broke through for DePaul with a curling 3-pointer and Andre Brown followed with a dunk to make it 11-5.

    UConn answered with a 16-2 run, and that was it for the Blue Demons, who were in the tournament for just the second time in 12 years. Before their first-round victory, they hadn't won a tournament game since 1989, when they beat Memphis State in the first round.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press



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