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Price propels UConn to sixth straight win

Jan 22, 2009 - 4:32 AM HARTFORD, Connecticut (Ticker) -- A.J. Price scored a career-high 29 points and Jerome Dyson had 19 as third-ranked Connecticut hung on for an 89-83 victory over No. 21 Villanova on Wednesday.

Jeff Adrien chipped in 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Huskies (17-1, 6-1 Big East), who won their sixth straight game.

"It truly is a great team win," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. "I know that Villanova has played a couple of teams from other conferences and has done fairly well. And I know they're a top-25 team. We found a way tonight, and I couldn't be prouder of my team."

Connecticut trailed by three early in the second half but started to take control as Dyson scored six straights during a 10-0 run to give the Huskies a 66-59 advantage with 13:28 remaining.

The Huskies' defense tightened up as the Wildcats scored three points over a stretch of over eight minutes, falling behind, 75-62, with 7:42 to play.

"We weren't playing as hard as we could in the first half," Dyson said. "They were out there pushing it and fouling us a lot. We just came out there a little tougher in the second half. We just played the kind of basketball we're supposed to."

Villanova fought back and closed within 79-74 on Antonio Pena's layup with 2:40 left and Scottie Reynolds later connected on a pair of free throws to make it a 79-76 score with 1:42 to play.

Craig Austrie answered with a runner in the lane to push the advantage back up to five with 1:17 remaining and the Huskies went 8-of-10 from the foul line in the final minute to help clinch the victory.

Dwayne Anderson scored 15 points to lead five players in double figures for Villanova (14-4, 2-3), which fell to 0-4 against ranked teams this season.

"When you play these guys on the road then you have to play like the way that they are playing right now, pretty close to a perfect game," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "We were not really near that and I give them credit."

Villanova had an early nine-point lead but Connecticut went on an 11-0 run to take a 27-25 advantage with 8:57 left in a hot-shooting first half.

The Wildcats pushed the lead back to six but Price kept the Huskies in the game as he made consecutive 3-pointers and later tied the score just before the break at 48-48 on a layup. The senior had 20 points in the first half.

"I think I've been playing a lot better the last couple of games," said Price, who had his fourth 20-point game of the season. "I'm becoming more efficient and more aggressive.

"I was a product of what they gave me tonight. They overplayed and tried to take me out of the offense."