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UConn rallies against LSU to avoid second straight loss

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Foul trouble kept Hilton Armstrong on the
bench for Connecticut for half the game. His confidence got him
back in.

"He said `put me back in. I'm going to score on anybody they
put on me," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said.

It turned out to be the right move.

Armstrong scored six of his 11 points in the final four minutes
to help UConn rally from 14 points down and beat LSU 67-66 on
Saturday.

"Hilton Armstrong had the loudest 11 points I think I've ever
seen," Calhoun said.

Playing with four fouls, Armstrong came through down the stretch
for the second-ranked Huskies (12-1) against the young and physical
Tigers (8-5). His dunk with 3:28 left put UConn ahead 61-59, the
Huskies' first lead since the 17:45 mark in the first half. But LSU
tied it on Tyrus Thomas' bucket on the next possession.

The Huskies leaned on the 6-foot-11 Armstrong again, who scored
inside and gave UConn the lead for good. He followed it up with a
soft hook on the Huskies' next possession for a 65-61 lead. Calhoun
was calling for Armstrong over the final few plays.

"It has a lot to do with confidence. If I get the ball under
the rim ... I just go up strong," Armstrong said. "That means a
lot to me to feel like [Calhoun] has confidence in me. He should,
because I'm going to step up for him."

Armstrong also had four of the team's 11 blocked shots. The
teams combined for 21 blocked shots in the heavyweight duel. Thomas
had a career-high seven blocks for the Tigers.

After the teams traded baskets, Darrel Mitchell, who led the
Tigers with 21 points, hit two of three free throws with 9.4
seconds left and the Huskies' lead was 67-66.

Marcus Williams then missed both free throws on the next UConn
possession, but Mitchell's 3-point attempt at the buzzer banged off
the backboard.

"I thought the shot Darrel Mitchell got from a foot behind the
arc was as good as we were going to get on the fly," LSU coach
John Brady said. "They beat us but I think our team went toe to
toe. There were times in the second half that we had four freshman
on the floor."

Rudy Gay finished with 19 points for UConn and Rashad Anderson
scored 10 and had a team-high 10 rebounds as the Huskies bounced
back from a 15-point loss at Marquette on Tuesday. In that loss
they shot just 17 of 34 from the line. They improved dramatically
against the Tigers, making 20 of 25 free throws. They struggled
from the floor, however, and made 22 of 67 attempts for 33 percent.

"We couldn't buy a basket, mainly because LSU played very good
defense," Calhoun said. "I thought we gutted it out. We found
other ways to win games than making 3-pointers or getting fast
breaks."

Thomas finished with 15 points and 13 boards for the Tigers.
Glen Davis, LSU's bruising 310-pound forward, and Tasmin Mitchell
each had 12 points.

The Huskies had their hands full early with the 6-9 Davis in the
paint. He drew a crowd each time he touched the ball, and although
he had just four points in the first half, he had three assists.
Garrett Temple and Thomas scored consecutive baskets inside each
from a Davis assist to push the LSU lead to 29-19 with 5:45 left in
the period.

"He was pretty big and pretty strong and he moved with that
weight well," Armstrong said. "I haven't seen anybody that big
move like that before."

It was part of a 6-0 run that ended with Thomas' dunk that gave
the Tigers their largest lead at 14 and drew an immediate timeout
from UConn. The Connecticut fans broke into boos as their team
trotted to the bench for the timeout and that prompted coach Jim
Calhoun to look up into the stands and motion for the crowd to boo
more.

"They became frustrated. We were frustrated," Calhoun said.
"We didn't need anybody else's help. I was upset and I used it for
my team."

That all changed in the next two UConn possessions. Jeff Adrien
had a strong putback and Anderson stole the inbounds pass and hit a
jumper. This time the crowd's response was a deafening roar of
approval. Anderson went on to hit a pair of 3s as the Huskies
closed the half on a 7-2 run to trail 37-30 at the break.

The sellout crowd of 16,294 stayed in the game the rest of the
way and fans were on their feet for the closing minutes. Armstrong
made sure they had something to cheer about.

"We kept it in our head that it was a winnable game,"
Armstrong said. "We've been in this situation before."