for this game

Connecticut outclasses Fairfield, remains unbeaten

Dec 27, 2008 - 5:49 AM HARTFORD, Connecticut (Ticker) -- It's about to get much tougher for Connecticut.

Jeff Adrien collected 21 points and 14 rebounds as the second-ranked Huskies remained unbeaten with a 75-55 victory over Fairfield in Friday's final tune-up before conference play.

Hasheem Thabeet added 20 points and 12 rebounds for UConn (11-0), which will open its Big East slate Monday against No. 12 Georgetown.

"We've had 11 chances to get it done, and we've done it," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said.

"But we have 19 Big East games - and I'm including Michigan as a Big East game because they're as good as anyone in our league. We have 19 wars starting on Monday, and we better be prepared to put everybody together."

The Huskies are coming off their biggest win of the season, an 88-83 overtime triumph over eighth-ranked Gonzaga last Saturday.

They had a much easier time in this one against an in-state opponent, which hails from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Calhoun, however, thought Fairfield did a good job of playing hard defensively before UConn's superior talent eventually won out.

"Fairfield came in very well-prepared defensively," Calhoun said. "I knew they ran good stuff but, defensively, they really kind of stopped us from getting into any kind of motion, any kind of flow, that we would really like to do.

"Eventually, we started playing really good defense, and then we started executing really good offense. At times, we were really, really, good."

The Huskies used their considerable size advantage to outrebound the mid-major Stags, 38-31, and earn easy looks in the paint en route to 50 percent (31-of-62) shooting.

The 7-3 Thabeet and burly 243-pound Adrien combined to shoot 18-of-25 from the field, with most of their buckets coming on dunks and point-blank layups.

"Obviously, when you look at the stat sheet, they really controlled the game," Fairfield coach Ed Cooley said. "When Thabeet and Adrien combine for whatever it was - 1,000 and 1,000 - it's tough to win.

"Forty-one points, 25 rebounds - that's the game."

As a result, UConn took a 16-point lead at halftime, allowing it to cruise in the second half.

It won't be as easy for the Huskies in the Big East, which boasts six other ranked teams - most of which can match UConn's physical style.

"It certainly was a good tune-up (for Big East play)," said Calhoun, whose teams have won 64 straight games against in-state opponents - last losing to Hartford in 1986, the veteran coach's first season.

As such, Connecticut will need more consistent guard play. Its starting backcourt of A.J. Price - who nailed a crucial 3-pointer to send the game to overtime against Gonzaga - and Jerome Dyson combined to score 16 points on 6-of-21 shooting on Friday.

Calhoun admitted that those guards need to elevate their play.

"Our inside players were sensational - our outside players were OK," the coach said. "We're going to need that backcourt and that frontcourt to match up together to have the type of games we're capable of."

Greg Nero scored 16 points for Fairfield (8-4), which had its seven-game winning streak snapped.

The Stags, who have won their first two games in the MAAC, continue conference play against Siena on Thursday. Cooley said that Friday's game was a departure from the competition his team sees in its league.

"They're clearly the best team we've played this year, and I don't even think it's close," he said.