STORRS, Conn. -- Kemba Walker got some help from Connecticut's freshmen in a fairly easy 78-54 win over Fairleigh Dickinson on Wednesday night.
Walker scored 21 points to lead the sixth-ranked Huskies (8-0), while Jeremy Lamb added 12 and fellow freshmen Roscoe Smith and Shabazz Napier had 10 each. Smith had 10 rebounds and Napier added five assists."It's just good to see that those guys' confidence is getting higher, and that's what we need," said Walker, who came in leading the nation in scoring at just over 29 points a game. "When those tough games come around, if I'm not on, I think some of those guys, especially the young guys, will come along."Lamb said the Husky freshmen live together, hang out together and are developing a real chemistry."As time is going on, we're getting closer and closer and getting better and better and starting to feel more comfortable on the court playing with each other," he said.Kamil Svrdlik led Fairleigh Dickinson (3-4) with 21 points and Mike Scott added 14.The Huskies, who beat top 10 teams Michigan State and Kentucky, have struggled at times against lesser opponents such as Vermont and New Hampshire, but had no trouble with the Knights.A tomahawk dunk from Lamb just inside the lane turned a 14-point halftime lead into a 48-27 advantage 4½ minutes into the second half.Smith's alley-oop dunk from Nappier with just under three minutes left made it 73-46.The Huskies outrebounded the Knights 48-38, and held FDU to 33 percent shooting from the field.The Huskies also took 32 3-point shots, a team record for a regulation game, and made just 10."Maybe two of the 32 3s weren't good 3s," coach Jim Calhoun said. "But, generally speaking, we need to shoot those shots, and all we have to do is make them."Connecticut held Fairleigh Dickinson without a field goal for the first seven minutes of the game. But the Huskies hit just two of their first 12 shots and led 8-6 after Mathias Seilund hit a jumper for Fairleigh Dickinson.A 15-0 UConn run gave the Huskies a 35-8 lead, punctuated when Napier inbounded the ball under his own basket off the back of Seiland, grabbed the ball and laid it in.A jumper by Niels Giffey gave the Huskies a 20-point lead with just over five minutes left in the first half, 33-13.Fairleigh Dickinson responded with an 8-2 run and trailed 35-21 at halftime."The positive is that my guys competed," FDU coach Greg Vetrone said. "They kept going."The half ended with Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun and center Charles Okwandu exchanging words as they headed to the locker room. Calhoun said he took exception to Okwandu's complaining about a play around the basket. Calhoun ended the conversation by telling the 7-foot senior to "go home.""I'm not upset with Chuck," Calhoun said. "Charles has a lot more that he's not giving to us and he doesn't truly understand, because he's a kid without a great deal of confidence."Okwandu, who started four games this season, returned to the game midway through the second half, and immediately blocked a shot. He had one rebound and no points in 10 minutes.Fairleigh Dickinson had won three straight coming into the game. The Knights fell to 5-46 against Big East schools, and 0-2 against Connecticut. UConn won the other meeting in the first round of the 1998 NCAA tournament, 93-85.UConn improved its record to 136-18 in Gampel Pavilion and 67-4 against non-conference opponents.Connecticut still has home games against Coppin State and Harvard before beginning its Big East schedule on Dec. 27 at No. 3 Pittsburgh.