for this game

UConn bounces back, smothers Rutgers

Jan 4, 2009 - 4:05 AM STORRS, Connecticut (Ticker) -- Connecticut took out its frustration against Rutgers on Saturday.

Hasheem Thabeet led a balanced attack with 15 points as second-ranked UConn rebounded from its first loss by cruising to an 80-49 victory over Rutgers.

Jerome Dyson scored 14 points and Jeff Adrien added 13 for the Huskies (12-1, 1-1 Big East), who were beaten at home, 74-63, by No. 8 Georgetown on Monday.

Rutgers (9-6, 0-2), which was playing against its third straight top-notch opponent, only shot 29 percent (15-of-52) from the field as it struggled with Connecticut's size.

"We came out as a team and said that we were going to play defense," Thabeet said. "We didn't have as many blocked shots as usual, but we got a lot of defensive rebounds."

The Huskies got off to a slow start, missing seven of their first eight shots before going on an 8-0 run to take a 10-7 lead with 11:24 left in the first half.

UConn never trailed again and finished the half strong to create some separation, using a 15-5 burst to open a 29-18 advantage at the break.

"I thought we played incredible defense in the first half," said Huskies assistant coach George Blaney, who took over in the second half after Jim Calhoun felt ill. "The bigs were good inside. We just didn't run any offense in the first half. We were sluggish again, we couldn't get into plays."

UConn scored 10 of its first 12 points to open the second half on dunks or layups and maintained a double-digit advantage throughout the final 20 minutes.

A.J. Price scored the final three points to cap a 10-0 run that made it 53-31 with 10:03 left. The Huskies later went on an 11-0 spurt to build a 70-40 cushion with 4:09 to play.

"It was just one of those games where we had to grind it out and find a way to get out of the funk," Adrien said. "We finally got out of it and started to run the fast break."

Freshman Gregory Echenique scored 17 points to lead the Scarlet Knights, who were coming off losses to top-ranked North Carolina and No. 3 Pittsburgh in their previous two contests. They became the first school to play against the top three teams in the nation in consecutive games.

"(Connecticut) really, really impressed me," Rutgers coach Fred Hill said. "North Carolina can score with anybody in the country. This was the best defensive team, tonight, of the three that we faced. I think you can get mentally worn down."