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Adrien, defense keys Connecticut's sixth straight win

Feb 7, 2008 - 5:20 AM SYRACUSE, New York (Ticker) -- Jeff Adrien and Connecticut's second-half defense helped the Huskies extend their winning streak to six games on Wednesday.

Adrien had 19 points and 12 rebounds and A.J. Price added 14 points and six assists as 19th-ranked Connecticut had a huge defensive effort over the final 20 minutes to help the Huskies edge Syracuse, 63-61, in Big East action.

Craig Austrie chipped in 11 points and Hasheem Thabeet had seven of Connecticut's eight blocks as the Huskies held the Orange to just 31 percent (10-of-32) shooting following the break.

"Defensively, we played well the whole game, offensively we did not do a good job attacking the zone," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "We didn't get the ball to the rim enough - we let the shot blocker do what he does best."

It was the fifth straight close win for Connecticut, which has won its last five games by single digits - an average of just 3.4 points.

Connecticut (17-5, 7-3 Big East) trailed by three points at the break, but created some separation midway through the second half.

The Huskies broke a tie by going on a 9-0 run to take their largest lead of the game at 55-46 with 4:56 left to play. Four different players scored for Connecticut, while Syracuse went over 4 1/2 minutes without a point during the critical stretch.

"I think we played really well, it was just that stretch in the second half where I think four straight possessions in a row we got our shots blocked - either the shot was blocked or Thabeet just altered the shot," Syracuse freshman guard Jonny Flynn said. "It had us hesitating on going to the rim like we weren't good enough to go in there and finish without a shot block.

"When you start having that thought in your mind that you can't go in there or you have to settle for a 3-point shot, the game is over from right there."

The Orange (16-8, 6-5) cut the deficit to 63-61 on Flynn's 3-pointer with 41 seconds to play and got the ball back in their own backcourt with just over two seconds remaining after gaining possession from a jump ball.

However, Flynn's desperation 3-pointer from 10 feet behind the arc was well short, giving the Huskies another close win.

Connecticut had jumped out to an early 7-2 lead before Syracuse came back and had a 23-18 advantage with 7:45 left in the first half.

The Huskies briefly regained a three-point advantage before the Orange ended the first half on an 8-2 run - capped by a layup by Flynn - to take a 34-31 lead.

Connecticut outrebounded Syracuse, 42-34, to help make up for 3-of-14 shooting from the arc and converting just 8-of-16 free throws.

Flynn finished with 20 points and Paul Harris led Syracuse with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

Freshman forward Donte Greene, who leads the Orange in scoring, was held to just eight points on 2-of-15 shooting from the floor, including 1-of-8 from the arc.

"He didn't shoot well tonight," Boeheim said. "He had some good looks, a lot of good looks. Paul (Harris) and Jonny (Flynn) kept us in there, they played tremendous."