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Adrien powers UConn past Northeastern

Dec 7, 2006 - 2:46 AM STORRS, Connecticut (Ticker) -- Jeff Adrien hasn't shied away from a leadership role.

Adrien scored 12 of his 18 points in a decisive second-half run, leading No. 10 Connecticut to an 81-53 victory over Northeastern.

With the Huskies (8-0) having lost their top six scorers from last season, including four first-round draft picks, Adrien has assumed the burden of go-to guy on the freshmen-laden squad and responded to the challenge.

The 6-7 sophomore also grabbed 12 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. He scored 14 points in the second half on 6-of-7 shooting as the Huskies pulled away from Northeastern, the school UConn hired coach Jim Calhoun away from in 1986.

"Second half ... coach was calling out the bigs basically," Adrien said. "He said I was playing defense and going to the boards (in the first half), but not finishing. I felt like I really had to go out there and finish.

"We came out flat. Every game is different. Coach did say this was a top-notch, a better team than we've played. We just came out flat."

With UConn leading, 40-32, at halftime, Adrien started to assert himself by scoring 12 points in a 14-4 run to push the advantage to 54-36 with 11:21 to play.

"The way he played the second half, that was what we were seeing probably the first four games of the year when he had back to back double-doubles every game," UConn point guard A.J. Price said of Adrien. "He took it personally the first half that the kid they had almost had a double-double at halftime.

"Coach really challenged him in the locker room and Jeff just came out and wanted to show he was much better and why he was getting all the talk he was getting in the preseason."

Freshman Doug Wiggins scored eight points in a span of 2:34 as the margin swelled to 66-39 with 7:28 to play. Wiggins finished with 14 points and Price added 13 as the Huskies shot 48 percent (29-of-61).

"I feel like I'm getting comfortable. I'm getting to know my role," Wiggins said. "I know what coach expects of me. I feel like I'm doing a good job on that. I'm happy with myself right now. I'm happy with the team. We came out with another win."

UConn looked like it was going to break the game open early on. Marcus Johnson scored six points in a 10-0 spurt to forge a 21-10 lead with 9:20 left.

Bennet Davis, Northeastern's leading scorer, scored the next eight points, sandwiching two 3-pointers around a layup to close the deficit to 21-18 before UConn pulled away to a 35-24 lead at the break.

"They have a tremendous team and they have so many weapons and they're so versatile," Northeastern coach Bill Coen said. "They're a very, very difficult team to prepare for. Their defense is outstanding. There really isn't an aspect of the game where they're lacking.

"If you had to say one thing, it's just experience. And once this team plays a couple of Big East games, they're going to be a tough team to handle down the stretch."

Davis scored 14 points and Matt Janning added 13 for Northeastern (2-6), which lost for the third time to a Big East for this season, having already fallen to Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

    --- --- -----
    NORTHEASTERN 24 29 53
    CONNECTICUT (10) 35 46 81 FINAL

    Dec 6 9:25 PM


    Dec 6 8:20 PM