STORRS, Conn. -- Jerome Dyson scored 20 points to lead Connecticut to a closer-than-expected 69-65 win over Morgan State Wednesday in the first round of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic.
UConn led by 16 early in the second half, but a Smith floater in the lane got the Bears to within four at 66-62 with 1:25 left.
Marquise Kelly missed a layup on Morgan State's next possession and the Huskies hung on.
UConn will play Buffalo in the second round on Thursday night. The Bulls beat Ohio Valley, 89-82 earlier Wednesday.
The Huskies scored the first seven points of the second half to go up 44-28, but missed several other easy opportunities, twice when ally-oop passes went awry and three other times on missed dunks.
Morgan State responded with a 14-2 run, capped by a pair of 3-pointers from Smith and Holmes.
Two more 3-pointers by Holmes tied the game at 52 with just under 7 minutes left.
Connecticut hit just four of its first 15 shots and trailed 14-10 eight minutes into the game.
The Huskies trailed 24-19 before switching to a three-guard lineup and going on an 18-4 run to close the half with a 37-28 lead. Craig Austrie and Kelly led the way with eight points each before intermission, highlighted by a Kelly slam that followed a missed Austrie free throw that tied the game at 24.
The Huskies played the bulk of the first half without 7-foot-3 center Hasheem Thabeet and Dyson, who both picked up two early fouls.
Dyson had 13 of his 20 points in the second half.
UConn is 18-4 in season openers under coach Jim Calhoun and hasn't lost an opening game at Gampel Pavilion since their on-campus home opened in 1990.