No. 4 UConn wins 14th straight game
Maine's Ted Woodward says he learned a lot about coaching when he was an assistant to Connecticut's Jim Calhoun, not the least of which was timing.
Nearly everyone in attendance watching the Black Bears battle No. 4 UConn on Thursday night was shocked when Calhoun called a timeout just five seconds into the second half. But Woodward, who coached under Calhoun from 1986-89, barely raised an eyebrow.
''I do believe I've seen that once before a long time ago,'' Woodward said. ''So, I wasn't surprised.''
Maine was within five points of the Huskies at halftime, but Calhoun's renewed efforts to motivate his team apparently worked as they pulled away for an 80-60 victory.
Freshman guard Justin Edwards scored a game-high 20 points for Maine (1-1).
Playing without its best player — senior guard Gerald McLemore missed the game with a knee injury — Maine trailed the defending national champions 36-31 at halftime. But UConn went on a 23-2 run to start the second half, after Calhoun's uniquely timed stoppage in play.
''We couldn't quite break the ice scoring a basket in the second half,'' said Woodward, whose team missed its first 13 shots from the floor in the second stanza. ''We were stuck on 33 forever.''
Raheem Singleton's layup finally gave Maine its 34th and 35th points with 9:34 to play, but the Huskies had amassed a 26-point lead by then and the game's outcome had essentially been decided.
Calhoun complained of a lack of energy, despite having five Huskies score in double figures.
Alex Oriakhi had 16 points and eight rebounds, Jeremy Lamb also scored 16 points and freshman DeAndre Daniels added 15 for UConn (3-0) in the win. Andre Drummond and Tyler Olander both chipped in with double-doubles. Drummond had 11 points and 14 rebounds, while Olander had 11 points and 10 boards.
UConn extended the longest winning streak in Division I to 14 games and also won its 36th consecutive non-conference game.
Connecticut jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but Maine responded with a 7-0 run of its own before Daniels, who got his first start, hit a reverse layup and a 3-pointer.
Daniels had 11 points in the half and UConn never trailed, but the Huskies couldn't shake the Black Bears, who tied the game four times before halftime.
''It definitely gave us a lot of confidence,'' said Edwards. ''We know once we all play together and play tough, we can play with anyone in the country. That's definitely a confidence booster.''
UConn turned up the defense after the timeout.
A three-pointer by Shabazz Napier gave UConn its first double-digit lead at 42-31. That was just the start of the Huskies' run. The Black Bears didn't get a field goal until Raheem Singleton hit an off-balance layup with 9:34 left in the game.
Drummond had four blocks, three in his first five minutes of action, and changed several other shots in the lane. Calhoun suggested Drummond may make his way into the starting lineup soon, but that's not something the 6-foot-10 freshman is worried about.
''I think I'm making a lot of progress, because I'm getting more comfortable with the guys,'' he said. ''It doesn't really matter to me if I start. I could start the game, finish the game, as long as I get out there and do what I'm supposed to do to help us win, that's what matters.''
Napier left the game with 9:25 remaining and the contest no longer in doubt because of what the coach called a twisted ankle.
The 14-game winning streak is tied for the fourth-longest in school history. The program's longest winning streak is 23 games, set during the 1995-96 season.
The Huskies haven't lost a non-conference game at home since January 2007 against Indiana in Hartford. The game was the 300th for UConn at its off-campus home court in Hartford. The Huskies improved to 219-81 in games at what is now the XL Center.
The win moved Calhoun into a temporary tie for sixth place on the all-time list with friend Jim Boeheim, who could reclaim the spot on Saturday when No. 5 Syracuse plays Colgate.
Singleton had nine points for the Black Bears, and Kilian Cato and Andrew Rogers chipped in eight apiece. Cato's points all came before halftime and he fouled out with 5:27 left.
It was the 15th time Calhoun coached against one of his former assistants, and the 69-year-old remains unbeaten in such meetings.