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Thabeet stands tall as UConn routs Fairfield

Nov 19, 2006 - 3:24 AM HARTFORD, Connecticut (Ticker) -- Hasheem Thabeet is still a work in progress. Fairfield may not want to see the finished product.

Thabeet, a 7-3 freshman from Tanzania, sparked a second-half surge to help No. 19 Connecticut trounce intrastate rival Fairfield, 74-49, in the Hispanic College Fun Classic.

One of the final recruits signed by Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun, Thabeet had 12 points, seven rebounds and nine blocks.

Jeff Adrien had his third double-double of the season with 17 rebounds and 12 rebounds for UConn (3-0), which beat Fairfield for the 17th straight time.

"You have me, I can jump and have long arms," Adrien said. "Hasheem is 7-3, he doesn't even need to jump and he can block a shot. It isn't really hard to lay the ball up and not have to be contested. Hopefully, we continue to block shots like we did."

UConn had 13 blocks for the contest and enjoyed a 41-30 rebounding edge over Fairfield.

"It's just timing," Thabeet said of his shot-blocking prowess. "You can't learn it, you just have to keep going at it."

The Huskies seemed on the verge of blowing out the Stags early, using a 7-0 run to open a 33-26 lead with 5:25 left in the half.

Fairfield cut it to five points on Marty O'Sullivan's 3-pointer but UConn's Craig Austrie answered with a 3-pointer to forge a 41-33 halftime lead.

UConn opened the second half with a 16-4 run to push the advantage to 57-37.

Thabeet had seven points and three rebounds during the spurt. At one point, he blocked a shot at one end and dunked and converted a three-point play at the other to make it 52-35.

"Today, (Thabeet) was really great," Adrien said. "He made some free throws. He was dunking. He really came alive in the second half, blocking more shots. When we find Hasheem on the offensive end, in a scoring position, it's going to be good for us."

A.J. Price scored 12 points for UConn, which shot 50 percent (24-of-48) from the field.

"In the second half, I thought we came out and played really well offensively," Calhoun said. "I think it's a small step because we showed some poise. I think some guys have emerged.

"Jeff was very good. Hasheem came back with a good second half. We had good leadership out of the backcourt. It's a step forward and we have to keep taking steps forward."

Greg Nero led the Stags (0-5) with 12 points, but they all came in the opening half.

"They (UConn) started out the second half, I think, with six or seven offensive rebounds and that really turned the tide, already being down by seven or eight points," Fairfield coach Ed Cooley said. "They went from seven or eight to 13 or 14 (points) really quickly. We were never able to regroup. Credit UConn for doing a good job making some adjustments at halftime."

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