HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut's defense impressed everybody
but its coach.
Rudy Gay had 22 points and 13 rebounds and No. 1 Connecticut
came up with another impressive defensive performance Wednesday
night, beating Syracuse 73-50 for its 10th straight victory.
Josh Boone added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Huskies
(21-1, 8-1 Big East), who entered the game first in the country in
blocked shots (9.3), third in field goal percentage defense (37.2)
and fourth in rebound margin (9.6).
The numbers only got better as they handed the Orange (16-7,
4-5) their fifth loss in six games with four of the losses coming
to Top 10 teams, two to Connecticut.
Darryl Watkins had 12 points and nine rebounds for Syracuse,
which shot a season-low 31.9 percent (22-for-69, including 3-for-26
from 3-point range), was outrebounded 50-35 and had 10 shots
"Our defense was inconsistent," Huskies coach Jim Calhoun
said. "The defense got us going but that wasn't the key because we
let up so many times. I think it was a good win but we didn't play
as well as we're capable of."
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said Connecticut "dominated inside
as they are going to against most people."
"There aren't too many teams who can do defensively what
Connecticut can do defensively," he said.
Syracuse senior Gerry McNamara had seven points on 3-for-9
shooting, but he played only 24 minutes, five in the second half.
He bruised his right thigh in the Orange's last game, an 86-84
overtime win over Rutgers in which he played just 15 minutes and
had two points.
McNamara has never had much success against the Huskies,
averaging 11.1 points, four below his career average, on 27.8
percent shooting, again well off his career mark of 37.4 percent.
"He hurt his Achilles' and he wanted to go back in like he
always does," Boeheim said. "There was just no way we are taking
a chance on putting him back in with so many games coming up."
Calhoun said not having McNamara made it difficult for the
"It made it easier for us because they depend on him so much,"
Connecticut had an ugly start, missing its first seven shots as
Syracuse took a 6-1 lead. Things changed in a hurry as the Huskies
went 17-of-26 from the field the rest of the half in taking a 37-19
"We really stepped it up on defense and in turn that led to our
offense and our fastbreak," Boone said in explaining how the
Huskies broke out of the shooting slump.
"When we want to we can put points on the board and we can stop
people," he said. "It's a matter of us really focusing in on the
game. It took us a couple of minutes to focus, but once we did we
show at times how good of a team we can really be."
The Orange hit two of their first 11 shots in the game and they
didn't turn it around as Connecticut did, finishing 8-for-34 (23.5
percent) from the field in the half. The Huskies shot 47.7 percent
for the game (31-for-65), but were only 1-for-13 from beyond the
Connecticut took a 49-29 lead on a basket down low by Jeff
Adrien with 14:17 to play.
Syracuse went on a 9-2 run to get within 57-44 on a 3-pointer by
Andy Rautins with 9:22 to go.
But Gay scored six points in an 11-2 run that made it 68-46 with
3:06 to play.
Gay, who leads the Huskies at 15.6 points per game, had a
highlight reel dunk early in the second half, taking off one step
inside the 3-point line. He appeared to be on his way to another
show-stopper on the next possession when he stole the ball but he
was brought down from behind by Demetris Nichols before he reached
the midcourt line.
"The opportunities I have I take advantage of my height
advantage," Gay said. "Coach gives me more shots because I'm
starting to take advantage of that.
"Usually I'm probably about 4 inches taller than anybody that's
playing me. I just try to take advantage of that and use my
Syracuse freshman Eric Devendorf was 0-for-11 from the field and
missed all four of his 3-point attempts and Nichols was 1-for-11
and missed five 3s.
"When Eric and Demetris shoot like that we're not going to beat
anybody," Boeheim said. "If we don't score from the perimeter,
we're not going to score."
Connecticut beat Syracuse 88-80 on Jan. 26.