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Thabeet, UConn thump road-weary Marquette

Jan 20, 2008 - 9:57 PM STORRS, Connecticut (Ticker) -- Hasheem Thabeet and Connecticut handed Marquette its latest embarrassing road loss in Big East Conference play.

Thabeet scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds Sunday afternoon as the Huskies rolled to an 89-73 rout of the 13th-ranked Golden Eagles.

Connecticut (12-5, 3-3 Big East) bounced back from a pair of disappointing losses to record its first victory in 12 days.

"We needed this one," UConn forward Jeff Adrien said. "It was in our house, and we didn't want to lose three straight games."

"They had their back against the wall," Huskies coach Jim Calhoun added. "Over the years, a lot of teams who have had their back against the wall in this league have certainly responded. I think these kids really responded."

It was the third straight road loss for Marquette (13-4, 3-3), which opened its Big East road schedule January 6 with a 79-64 loss at West Virginia.

The Golden Eagles were even worse in Thursday night's 71-51 loss at Louisville, recording their lowest scoring output and suffering their most lopsided conference loss since joining the Big East in 2005.

Three days later, Marquette looked lost in this matinee contest, shooting just 40 percent (26-of-65) from the floor and committing 29 fouls.

The undersized Golden Eagles were constantly turned away in the paint by the 7-3 Thabeet, who blocked six shots.

"This win meant something to us," the sophomore center said. "We talked as a team and said, 'If we play defense, we can win games.'"

Thabeet also was effective on the offensive end, making all three of his field goals and shooting 9-of-13 from the free-throw line.

"I tried to present myself more so I'd get more touches on the ball," he said. "The keys to the game were moving the ball, play as a team, talk to each other, poise and execute."

A.J. Price scored 17 points and dished out eight assists to pace a balanced attack for UConn, which had five players finish in double figures.

The explosive offensive performance stood in stark contrast to UConn's last outing - a 77-65 loss here to Providence on Thursday. The Huskies shot just 24 percent in the second half of the loss, which took place five days after a heartbreaking 72-69 defeat at Georgetown.

But UConn was much more efficient against the Golden Eagles, shooting 54 percent (25-of-46) from the floor and 85 percent (33-of-39) from the line.

"Hopefully that wasn't our team Thursday night," Calhoun said. "But the team you saw growing had a major, major, big hiccup and then recovered from it today."

"Everybody was upset about how poorly we played against Providence," Price added. "We were really anxious to get to this game. Tonight, I think it showed because we played 40 minutes hard."

Adrien and reserve Craig Austrie also scored 15 points while Stanley Robinson chipped in 10 for the Huskies, who posted their first win over a ranked team since beating Washington in the regional semifinal of the 2006 NCAA Tournament.

"We haven't won against a ranked team for about two years, so this is a big win for us," said Austrie, who matched his career high in scoring. "We felt like we were embarrassed when we played Providence, so we just wanted to come out here and make a statement."

Marquette closed to 27-21 on Wesley Matthews' jumper with 4:15 remaining in the first half. But the Huskies closed the half on a 12-3 run to enter the break with a comfortable 39-24 cushion.

"They were obviously very, very good today and extremely good around the rim," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "We got off to a poor start. They got off to such a great start."

The second half was no different, as UConn went on a 28-14 spurt to take its biggest lead of the contest at 67-38 with 10 minutes remaining.

Lazar Hayward led the Golden Eagles with 14 points while Matthews added 13 for Marquette, which shot just 28 percent (8-of-29) in the first half.

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