Connecticut 79, Stony Brook 52

A new-look Connecticut team won its season opener in classic Jim

Calhoun style – with rebounding and defense.

Kemba Walker scored 18 points and Alex Oriakhi added 11 to go

with a career-high 18 boards as Connecticut beat Stony Brook 79-52

Friday, holding the Seawolves to just five second-half field

goals.

”Coach is the kind of coach where if you don’t play defense,

you can’t play for him,” Walker said. ”Guys were like, ‘My man is

not scoring and I’m not coming out of this game’.”

The Huskies received 12 points from Shabazz Napier and 11 from

Jeremy Lamb, two of the five Husky freshmen who saw action.

UConn held Stony Brook to 27 percent shooting and dominated the

boards, outrebounding the Seawolves 59-33. Stony Brook was playing

without Tommy Brenton, the America East’s leading rebounder, who

suffered a season-ending knee injury during a pick-up game in

September.

”We killed them on the boards and we’re just going to build off

this,” said Oriakhi.

A 12-0 run early in the second half gave the Huskies a 51-33

lead and put the game out of reach.

When Jamal Coombs-McDaniel followed a miss by Lamb with 12:09

left, the Huskies were up by 21 at 58-37. A layup by Tyler Olander

with 4:28 left stretched the lead to 30 at 75-45.

”We you looked up and we held them to 15 percent (shooting) in

the half, we did our job defensively much better than maybe our

team last year could have,” Calhoun said.

Bryan Dougher had 19 points for Stony Brook, which hit just 17

of its 63 shots.

”We kind of got caught in a pick-up game. That’s not how we

play, and against Connecticut, they’re always going to win a

pick-up game,” said Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell, who played

guard and coached under Calhoun at UConn.

Connecticut started three of its six freshmen. Niels Giffey was

the only one of the five, who played, not to score. Olander, who

played his high school basketball in Storrs, had the game’s first

points and finished with four. Roscoe Smith added six points and

seven rebounds.

”Our freshman class is going to do well no matter what” Napier

said. ”We have the confidence to go out there and put up shots and

play defense. So as long as we do what we’ve gotta do and go out

there and make coach happy, our confidence level will rise

throughout the year.”

The Huskies held Stony Brook scoreless for the game’s first four

minutes, but trailed 7-6 a minute later when Al Rapier hit a

driving layup.

Stony Brook committed 13 first-half fouls and six minutes into

the game, the Huskies already were in the bonus.

Lamb’s steal and dunk with 7 1/2 minutes to play in the half

gave UConn a 9-point lead at 24-15.

But Walker made just one of his first eight shots and Stony

Brook’s Bryan Dougher kept the Seawolves in the game with his

3-point shooting. He had 13 of his points before halftime, when he

was 3 of 5 from behind the arc. He missed all five of his

3-pointers in the second half.

Oriakhi, who had 11 first-half rebounds, tipped in a Donnell

Beverly jumper at the halftime buzzer to give UConn a 39-31

lead.

”That first half was a little rough,” Oriakhi said. ”But it’s

all about getting better and learning,”

Calhoun is now 14-0 against former assistant coaches, including

4-0 against Pikiell.

Stony Brook, last season’s America East regular season

champions, also played without point guard Marcus Rouse, who is

expected to be out at least a month with a knee injury of his own.

The Seawolves made the NIT last year.

Connecticut’s new assistant coach Kevin Ollie wasn’t on the

bench Friday. He was injured Wednesday when an exercise band

snapped back and hit him in the right eye, and may miss the

Huskies’ upcoming trip to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational.