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Defending champion UConn opens season with win

Nov 12, 2011 - 8:49 AM Storrs, CT (Sports Network) - Jeremy Lamb poured in 30 points, as reigning national champion Connecticut started its season with a 70-57 win over Columbia.

Shabazz Napier added 21 points and eight assists for the fourth-ranked Huskies (1-0), who ended 32-9 last season and captured the school's third title with a victory over Butler.

"If it wasn't for Jeremy making shots and Shabazz running the team, we would have been in serious trouble," said Huskies coach Jim Calhoun.

Roscoe Smith tallied eight points for UConn, which has never lost its Gampel Pavilion opener, dating back to the first game in the building in 1990. The Huskies have beaten 23 straight opponents in their Gampel season debut.

Kemba Walker, a big piece of UConn's recent national championship team, was the ninth overall pick in the NBA draft. But the Huskies still have plenty of firepower with junior Alex Oriakhi and sophomores Lamb and Napier highlighting the returnees.

Noruwa Agho had 16 points, while Blaise Staab tallied 11 along with 12 rebounds in defeat. Brian Barbour scored 10 for the Lions (0-1), who are coming off a 15-13 season a year ago. That included a 6-8 mark in the Ivy League in head coach Kyle Smith's first season.

"I thought it was a very competitive game for us," said Lions coach Kyle Smith. "We dug in there and gave them a little threat there in the second half."

Eight straight UConn points boosted the hosts to a 13-5 lead. The Huskies widened the gap to 25-10 on a jam by Roscoe Smith inside eight minutes remaining, but the Lions stayed within striking distance thanks to a late three-ball from Matt Johnson. That brought Columbia within 34-22 before Lamb canned a three to close the half.

Agho's three-pointer had the Lions within eight early in the second half, but the Huskies netted the next 10, highlighted by jams from Lamb and DeAndre Daniels, the latter of which opened a 49-31 cushion with nearly 12 minutes to go.

An 8-1 burst had the Lions within 57-46 following a Meiko Lyles three-pointer with nearly six minutes remaining, but a pair of threes from Lamb widened the gap again.

Game Notes

Columbia played Connecticut for the first time since December 28, 1983 when the Huskies defeated the Lions 85-60 in the first round of the CMC Connecticut Mutual Classic. UConn holds a 7-2 advantage in the series...Connecticut is 22-4 in season openers under head coach Jim Calhoun and hold an overall record of 80-29 in 109 previous season openers...The Huskies have won 36 straight non-conference games at Gampel Pavilion and are 162-4 at home in November and December against non-league opponents. UConn has not lost a regular season game in Storrs in November or December since December 5, 1973, a 91-85 loss to Holy Cross, a streak that spans 100 games...Connecticut has won 151 of its last 152 home games before the New Year against non-league competition.