HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut's three big men came up very
big on Saturday.
The Huskies' front line of Josh Boone, Charlie Villanueva and
Rudy Gay combined for 48 points and 34 rebounds and the Huskies (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today; No. 12 AP) beat Rutgers 78-64 by outscoring the Scarlet Knights 58-28
in the paint.
The 6-foot-10 Boone had 20 points, 12 rebounds and six blocked
shots to lead the Huskies (10-3, 2-1 Big East). The 6-11 Villanueva
added 14 points, tied his career-high with 14 rebounds, blocked six
shots and had four assists, including two of the spectacular,
no-look, behind-the-head variety.
"I did walk by him and say, 'Hey Magic, how are you doing?"
UConn coach Jim Calhoun said.
Gay, a 6-9 freshman, added 14 points and eight rebounds.
"Nobody can really stop us," Gay said. "We have one of the
best frontcourts in the nation, why not use it?"
Connecticut jumped on Rutgers early, scoring the first eight
points of the game and never trailed. The Huskies built a 14-4 lead
early as Rutgers missed its first nine shots.
"I thought we started on a negative, and that's what hurt us,"
Rutgers coach Gary Waters said. "We had three layups, we're
fighting and they (UConn) are questioning themselves. But instead,
we missed the layups and it became tighter and tighter for our guys
to score in the paint."
Rutgers was just 5-of-19 from 3-point range and couldn't compete
with Connecticut underneath. The Huskies outrebounded Rutgers 53-46
and scored 27 second-chance points.
"There's going to be games like that," Boone said. "There's
going to be games when we really dominate inside, then there are
going to be games when the guards have to do the majority of the
After trailing 46-35 at halftime, Rutgers used a 7-2 run to
close within 48-42, but would get no closer. Connecticut responded
with a 14-4 run.
After a five-point Rutgers spurt made it 70-60 with 5 minutes
left, UConn responded with two possessions that shut the door.
UConn had three missed shots and three offensive rebounds before
Gay hit a jumper from the right wing. Point guard Marcus Williams
then stole the ball on the defensive end and fed Villanueva, who
gave the ball back to Williams on a touch pass for a layup.
"I'd rather make an assist than score to be honest with you,"
Villanueva said. "I love passing the ball."
Connecticut, which had been held below 40 percent shooting in
losing two of its previous three games, shot 45 percent from the
field, and held Rutgers to 35 percent shooting.
Connecticut has won 11 of its 12 games against Rutgers since the
Scarlet Knights joined the Big East in 1995.
The win came a day after UConn announced that Calhoun had
accepted a 6-year contract extension worth $9.1 million. Calhoun is
in his 19th year with the Huskies. He led UConn to its second
national title last year and ranks eighth in career wins among all
active NCAA coaches with 689 victories, 441 coming at Connecticut.
"The official said something to me about, 'We were hoping for
six months, not six years," Calhoun joked.