Frontcourt helps Connecticut down West VirginiaJan 7, 2009 - 4:47 AM MORGANTOWN, West Virginia (Ticker) -- Connecticut's size proved to be too much for West Virginia to overcome.
Jeff Adrien scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half as fifth-ranked Connecticut hung on for a 61-55 victory over No. 22 West Virginia on Tuesday.
Hasheem Thabeet added 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Huskies (13-1, 2-1 Big East), who exploited their considerable size advantage up front.
"That was as hard as we have played all year and we had to play hard to beat West Virginia," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. "We have beaten Gonzaga and Wisconsin this year and some pretty good people, but I would describe that as our best win."
The contest was tight throughout but layups by Adrien and Thabeet capped a 7-0 run that gave Connecticut the lead for good at 52-47 with 6:03 remaining. It was the largest lead of the game at that point.
West Virginia (11-3, 1-1) had a pair of chances to tie the game in the final minutes but Alex Ruoff missed a jumper and a 3-pointer with the team down, 57-55. Cam Thoroughman also missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 1:06 left.
"These typical (West Virginia coach) Bobby Huggins teams ... they just come at you and if you think you have them put away - you are wrong because they are going to make a hustle play and dive for a loose ball," Calhoun said.
Jerome Dyson, who finished with 11 points, made a key basket with the shot clock winding down, scoring on a driving layup with 37 seconds remaining to give UConn a 59-55 lead. Dyson added a pair of free throws with eight seconds to play for the game's final margin.
Connecticut shot just under 40 percent for the game (21-of-53), but held West Virginia to 30 percent (20-of-66) shooting while dominating in rebounding, 52-33. The Mountaineers were 6-of-26 from the arc.
"They are a foot taller than we are," Huggins said. "I told you before the game that now we're playing against men - 22-year-old guys who are a lot bigger and stronger. But we competed."
Stanley Robinson added seven points, 15 rebounds and three blocks for the Huskies, who was held to their season-low point total.
Neither team led by more than four during the first half and Wellington Smith's long 3-pointer from beyond the top of the arc tied the score at 29-29 at the break.
It was more of the same early in the second half as Da'Sean Butler's 3-pointer gave the Mountaineers a 36-33 lead with 17:34 left. But the Huskies answered with Dyson's layup and a three-point play by Adrien to take a 38-36 edge.
West Virginia regained a slim lead but Connecticut answered back and Thabeet's alley-oop dunk put the Huskies on top, 45-44, for the contest's 10th lead change with 10:47 to go.
"(UConn) can make more mistakes than we can," Huggins said. "They can do that because they have guys who can erase mistakes. They can miss shots. They're bigger and stronger. They've got a whole bunch of veteran guys - and not just veterans but real good veteran guys."
Ruoff and Butler each scored 13 points to lead the Mountaineers, who had their five-game winning streak snapped.
- NCAA BB
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
CONNECTICUT (5) 29 32 61
WEST VIRGINIA (22) 29 26 55 FINAL
Jan 6 9:00 PM
- NCAA BB
(5) CONNECTICUT 29
(22) WEST VIRGINIA 29 HALFTIME
Jan 6 7:48 PM
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