for this game

Price shakes out of slump as UConn tops Cincinnati

Jan 11, 2009 - 5:09 AM CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- In the midst of a shooting slump, A.J. Price showed his experience. He kept firing away.

Price hit five 3-pointers and scored 22 points to carry fifth-ranked Connecticut to an 81-72 victory over Cincinnati in Saturday's Big East Conference matchup.

Jeff Adrien had 13 points and 12 rebounds and Jerome Dyson scored 12 for the Huskies (14-1, 3-1 Big East), who improved to 5-0 all-time against the Bearcats.

The 6-2 Price deserves the majority of the credit for the latest victory, halting a scoring slump in which he failed to crack seven points in three of his previous four games.

Price nearly had seven points alone in the closing minute of the first half, sandwiching a pair of 3-pointers around a jumper by Cincinnati's Mike Williams to give his club a 38-34 lead at the break.

"A.J. Price's threes at the end of the first half hurt us," Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. "We could have had a halftime lead, but we couldn't get over the hump against them."

The senior guard continued to shoot well from deep after the intermission, hitting a basket from the arc in the opening moments and adding another to extend Connecticut's advantage to 68-56 with 5:48 to play.

The Bearcats (10-6, 0-3) got within 55-52 with 10:18 remaining, but the Huskies responded with a 13-4 run. Price scored five points during the burst.

Price finished 8-of-12 from the floor, including 5-of-8 from the arc. He also handed out five assists.

He entered the game shooting just 29 percent (9-of-31) over the previous four games, including 2-of-12 on 3-pointers.

Another of the Huskies' senior leaders, Adrien shot 5-of-8 and pulled down three offensive boards.

"Talent combined with experience equals winning," Cronin said of Connecticut. "When you have serious talent and a wealth of experience, you are going to win big. If they can stay healthy, the sky is the limit for them. It is just a matter of staying healthy. They probably got a wake-up call in their first Big East loss (vs. Georgetown)."

Deonta Vaughn scored 19 points for Cincinnati, which lost for the fourth straight time.

One of the Big East's top scorers a year ago, Vaughn went 8-of-15 from the field with two 3-pointers. He also handed out six assists.

"He's really a terrific player and competitor," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. "We did a really good job of holding him to 19 points and six assists."

Forced to play the point due to an injury to freshman Cashmere Wright, Vaughn committed four of the Bearcats' eight turnovers.

"We made some strides to play hard. That is one thing we wanted to," Vaughn said. "We came out and did what we had to do. We had eight turnovers as a team, and I had half of them. We played hard and competed. We didn't give them anything easy."

A junior forward, Williams added 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Cincinnati, which finished with a 31-26 advantage on the boards.

One reason for the Bearcats' success on the glass was their ability to limit UConn big man Hasheem Thabeet, who finished with just three boards in 29 minutes - nearly eight below his average of 10.

Thabeet was held in check mainly by Cincinnati freshman Yancy Gates, who had 12 points and nine rebounds.

"Generally speaking, he is averaging 14 (points) and 10 (rebounds)," Calhoun said of Gates. "Hasheem Thabeet couldn't average that without a point guard. It is a long season, and as he develops, people are going to get him the ball at the right spot.

"He's one of the best young players in our league, and he can battle any of the big guys in our league. The future of Cincinnati is really good."