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UConn blows past overmatched New Hampshire

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- No surprises here.

Connecticut put the squeeze on overmatched New Hampshire early and the second-ranked and unbeaten Huskies cruised to another lopsided win.

Rudy Gay had 22 points and three steals and Ed Nelson dominated down low with 11 rebounds in UConn's 86-44 victory on Sunday.

"We're bigger, we're stronger and we're quicker. Those kind of things are going to allow you to win most of the times," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said.

Marcus Johnson, making his first start for an injured Denham Brown (bruised knee), had a career-high 20 points for the Huskies (8-0).

Blagoj Janev led the Wildcats (2-8) with 24 points. His back-to-back baskets with 13:49 left in the game were the Wildcats' first consecutive scores.

The game was the first of four inferior opponents at home for the Huskies, who have been beating opponents by an average of nearly 20 points. Next up for UConn is Morehead State, followed by Stony Brook. UConn plays host to in-state rival Quinnipiac on Dec. 30 in hopes of rolling into January and the Big East season at 11-0.

"That's what this game is all about, getting ourselves ready for the next three games and then head on into our league games," Calhoun said.

This one was over early. UConn's size, speed and depth made sure of that.

The Huskies came out in a fullcourt press and nearly squeezed the Wildcats right out of the building. New Hampshire didn't score for nearly six minutes and was held to 15 points in the first half as the Huskies ran away with it.

"We pressed mostly all game basically because we know that can be effective," Gay said. "It changes the momentum of the game. It helps you get out on the break faster and get baskets in transition."

Gay finished many of the breaks with more highlight reel dunks. His thunderous breakaway slam with 4:33 left in the first half entertained the fans and gave UConn a 35-9 lead.

Nelson was making his first start for UConn. The Georgia Tech transfer and former ACC rookie of the year bulled his way inside for 12 points, mostly on putbacks, and teamed up with Gay for one of the oddest plays of the game.

In the closing minutes of the first half, Gay fired a pass inside to a cutting Nelson. The ball ricocheted off Nelson's broad chest straight back into Gay's hands. Gay then passed it to the wing and the ball eventually made it back into the paint where Nelson made an easy layup.

"When I'm out there people say I'm not a scorer," Nelson said. "I still have it in me. But we have a whole group of people that can score. I've got to do the things that sort of make us a championship team, diving for loose balls, using my size under the basket. That's what I have to do."

Led by Nelson, Huskies outrebounded the Wildcats 45-27 and outscored the visitors 40-10 in the paint.

Rashad Anderson had 15 points as the Huskies' reserves accounted for 25 points.

The Wildcats made 19 turnovers and shot 29 percent (13-of-45).

"We just wanted to give ourselves a chance," New Hampshire coach Bill Herrion said. "What we're more concerned with is 'How do we get better.' We don't have a lot of experience. If you're even going to stay close with a team like this, you have to make
shots."

For the first time this season, point guard Marcus Williams joined the Huskies at the shootaround but did not sit on the bench for the game.

Williams, last season's Big East assist leader, was suspended for his arrest this summer in the theft of laptops from UConn dorm rooms. He is eligible to practice with the team and is expected to return to games in time for the Jan. 3 Big East opener at Marquette.

"He's a good teammate," Nelson said. "To see him on the court today, it's an amazing feeling because you just know how much better our team's going to get."