for this game

Connecticut rallies for 10th straight victory

Feb 20, 2008 - 4:25 AM STORRS, Connecticut (Ticker) -- Connecticut just seems to enjoy playing in close contests.

Hasheem Thabeet had 16 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks as the 13th-ranked Huskies rallied for their 10th consecutive victory, 65-60, over DePaul in Big East action on Tuesday.

Craig Austrie had 14 points and Jeff Adrien added 12 and 12 rebounds for Connecticut (21-5, 10-3 Big East), which stayed even in the loss column with conference leaders Georgetown (11-3) and Louisville (11-3).

"The big fella (Hasheem Thabeet) won the game for us far and away, it wasn't even close," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. "His 8 blocked shots, his 10 intimidations, his couple of post moves down the stretch. I think he was the difference maker."

It was another close call for the Huskies, who were coming off a 74-73 overtime victory at South Florida on Saturday. Connecticut has won by just 5.2 points during its winning streak, including a margin of 3.4 points in its last seven Big East contests.

"We didn't turn the ball over, we got good looks through the second half," DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright said. "But you have got to shoot better than that against teams that are lane oriented and so powerful inside.

"They are a good team, they are playing at home and they do what good teams do, they hung in there and played well down the stretch."

The Blue Demons (10-15, 5-8) gave the home team all it could handle, as they opened the second half on a 14-0 run - keyed by 10 points from Draelon Burns - to take a 42-29 bulge with 17:05 remaining.

But the Huskies started to claw back with an 8-0 run to close within 53-48 with 7:12 left in the contest.

DePaul pushed the lead back up to nine but Connecticut answered with nine straight points - capped by A.J. Price's jumper - to tie the game at 57-57 with under four minutes left.

Connecticut continued its momentum and took its first lead since halftime on Thabeet's layup and Adrien followed with a dunk to give the Huskies a 61-58 edge with 2:38 left.

Burns scored to cut the deficit to one point but the DePaul senior and Will Walker each missed 3-pointers in the final minute and Austrie and Stanley Robinson each made a pair of free throws to seal the Huskies' victory.

"We knew there was a lot of time on the clock and we just wanted to take it basket by basket," Austrie said of the comeback. "We would have panicked last year."

Connecticut's leading scorer, Price was held to just six points on 1-of-7 shooting. The junior, who was averaging 18.0 points during the winning streak before Tuesday, also had seven assists and five turnovers.

"I think the kid did a good job on A.J.," Calhoun said. "And I think A.J. tried to force it a couple of times - thus the five turnovers - and that is the first time he's done that. I can forgive him for that because he has had nine really tremendous games."

Burns scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half to lead the Blue Demons, who made just 4-of-21 shots from the arc.

"If you would have told me that going into this game, (Connecticut) would have 65 points I would have been overjoyed," Wainwright said. "A lot of our outside shots were really good looks. We certainly had opportunities to shoot the ball better."

Connecticut led by as many as six early in the first half but DePaul closed within 29-28 at the break on a jumper by Burns right before the half.