MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- Dunks. Layups. Rebounds. Top-ranked
Connecticut dominated No. 11 West Virginia inside.
Josh Boone scored 18 points and the Huskies (23-2, 10-2 Big
East) bounced back from a loss at Villanova earlier in the week
with an 81-75 victory Saturday, the Mountaineers' third loss in
UConn took over sole possession of second place from the
Mountaineers (18-7, 9-3). The Huskies are one-half game behind No.
4 Villanova, which hosts No. 17 Georgetown on Sunday.
"Anytime your team comes off a loss, your game needs to step up
another notch," said UConn's Hilton Armstrong, who had five of the
Huskies' nine dunks and finished with 15 points.
Armstrong credited Marcus Williams' lob passes over West
Virginia's zone defense. Williams finished with 10 assists.
"We did things underneath today that we couldn't do against
Villanova because of our point guard. He sees things underneath and
makes plays most other guards can't," Armstrong said.
UConn held the Big East's worst rebounding team under 30 for the
second straight year. West Virginia's 19 rebounds were a season low
and the Mountaineers had just two on the offensive end.
"We came out trying to attack from the tip," Boone said.
"Against a 1-3-1, teams usually try and stay out of the middle. We
actually wanted to get in there and mix it up.
"Good things happen when the ball gets inside."
Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said his team practiced against
the 1-3-1 zone for three straight days.
"Our inside power is very difficult for most teams to handle,"
Calhoun said. "Today, we were able to get inside better than we
did on Monday."
Connecticut will play three of its final four regular-season
games at home, including a rematch with Villanova next Sunday.
West Virginia made exactly half its field goals, but that wasn't
good enough against the Huskies, who shot 60.7 percent (17-of-28)
in the second half and 57.9 percent overall.
"UConn gets easy baskets. It's very hard for us to get easy
baskets," West Virginia coach John Beilein said. "They just throw
it to the rim to somebody and they get it."
Connecticut used an onslaught of inside scoring to take the lead
for good late in the first half, although West Virginia's Mike
Gansey and Kevin Pittsnogle kept it from becoming a rout.
The Mountaineers trimmed an eight-point deficit to one on three
occasions late in the game but never retook the lead.
"We could not get over the hump," Gansey said. "They answered
every time we got close. We played well, but we needed to play
Rashad Anderson's 3-pointer with 4:10 left put the Huskies ahead
Pittsnogle's 3-pointer with 1:14 left pulled the Mountaineers
within 75-72, but Anderson answered again from long range 21
seconds later and West Virginia never threatened again.
The Mountaineers, who were second in the NCAA with 10 3-pointers
per game, finished 10-for-28 from beyond the arc against the Big
East's top 3-point defense.
UConn's Rudy Gay had 14 points, 12 in the second half, and 12
Gansey led West Virginia with 25 points. Pittsnogle had 13 of
his 15 in the second half. Johannes Herber added 14 for the
Mountaineers and Frank Young had 12.
West Virginia hasn't beaten Connecticut since 1998, a span of
six games. The Mountaineers hadn't played a top-ranked team since
losing to UConn in 1999.
UConn is 8-1 against ranked teams this season while West
Virginia is 4-4.