for this game

Price leads Connecticut to fifth straight win

Feb 2, 2008 - 10:08 PM By Kevin Pedersen PA SportsTicker Staff Writer

HARTFORD, Connecticut (Ticker) -- A.J. Price and Connecticut continued its winning ways on Saturday.

Price had 21 points, six rebounds and five assists as the Huskies won their fifth straight game, 60-53, over No. 21 Pittsburgh in a Big East Conference slugfest at the XL Center.

Jeff Adrien had 14 points and Craig Austrie added 13 for Connecticut, which survived despite their lowest scoring game of the season.

"It's a terrific win for us," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. "It was a war. Came down to the last man standing - and very simply we were. They're (Pittsburgh) a very good basketball team and they play great defense like a Big East team."

Continuing to play without guard Jerome Dyson, who was recently suspended for 30 days for a second failed drug test, the Huskies (16-5, 6-3 Big East) moved into a tie for third place in the Big East - much in thanks to Price.

With the score tied late in the second half, Austrie's 3-pointer - on a feed from Price - put Connecticut in front, 54-51, before freshman Gilbert Brown made two of three foul shots to pull Pittsburgh within one with under two minutes to play.

The Huskies regained the three-point bulge on Price's driving layup and, after Ronald Ramon missed a 3-pointer, Price grabbed the rebound and converted two free throws to give Connecticut a 58-53 lead with 37 seconds left.

Pittsburgh missed its last two shots from the arc and Adrien made a pair from the line to seal the win.

"When people believe in people and trust them, great things happen," Calhoun said. "And that's what this team is doing right now."

Price shot 6-of-12 from the field and made 8-of-9 free throws for his second straight 20-point game and sixth of the season. Price is also averaging 17.0 points and 5.6 assists per game during Connecticut's streak.

"He was absolutely sensational," Calhoun said. "He's as good a guard as there is in this league right now. As a point guard, I think he would help any team in the country."

Connecticut scored the game's first basket before Pittsburgh answered with seven straight points at the 17:44 mark of the first half and the Panthers led by as many as eight at 21-13 with 4:31 left before halftime.

But despite going over five minutes without a point and committing 11 first-half turnovers, the Huskies rallied to tie the game at 22-22 on Price's three-point play with 1:27 remaining in the half.

The Panthers shot just 8-of-29 in the first half, failing to capitalize on having 11 more shot attempts than the Huskies.

"I thought we could have done a better job at that end, obviously," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. "They made some shots and got to the free-throw line. It was disappointing."

Connecticut held a slim 34-31 advantage early in the second half but Ramon answered with a 3-pointer to tie the game and Sam Young put Pittsburgh back in front at 36-34 on a baseline jumper with 12:51 to play.

No team had a lead larger than four points for nearly the entire second half and freshman DeJuan Blair's two free throws tied the game for Pittsburgh at 51-51 with 2:31 remaining.

"At the end, it's a tie game with two minutes left," Dixon said. "And it comes down to getting a stop, and we didn't get the stop."

Young finished with 18 points and Blair added 13 and 13 rebounds - his ninth double-double - for the Panthers (17-5, 5-4), who shot just 32 percent (19-of-59) from the floor and just 2-of-16 of its shots from the arc.