By PAT EATON-ROBB
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ UConn has had trouble with zone defenses in recent years, but with seven players hitting from 3-point range against Maine, that problem appears to be solved.
Ryan Boatright scored 17 points to lead a balanced UConn attack and the 12th-ranked Huskies routed the Black Bears 95-68 on Friday night to stay undefeated.
DeAndre Daniels and Omar Calhoun both added 16 points, and Niels Giffey added 12 points for the Huskies (9-0). UConn shot 53 percent from the field and hit 14 of 25 shots from behind the arc.
“A lot of us go back to the gym at night,” Boatright said. “Last year, there was only a few of us that was taking the initiative and going back and working on our game. Now, it’s hard to even get a rim in there, because everybody’s in the gym shooting.”
Shabazz Napier scored just seven points. He never looked for his shot against the Black Bears, taking just five. Instead, the senior dished out eight assists, becoming the fourth player in school history with at least 1,000 points and 500 assists.
“It’s just a remarkable feat by him,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “That’s what you get when you stay here for a long time. You have the opportunity to win and to be around great players. You get the opportunity to share the basketball and also make plays too.”
Xavier Pollard had 20 points for Maine (1-7), which has lost six straight. Zarko Valjarevic added 13 points, all in the second half.
The Huskies are off to their best start since going 10-0 to open 2010-11 and have won 54 consecutive home games against non-conference opponents.
UConn led 54-31 at halftime and stretched the lead to 30 points early in the second half. Boatright missed a dunk on a lob from Napier, but gathered his own rebound, dribbled to the left corner and drained a 3-pointer that made it 70-40.
Ollie began going deep into his bench after that with no starter playing more than 26 minutes.
Maine stayed in the game early.
Connecticut hit the game’s first two shots, but missed its next five and the Black Bears used an 8-0 run to take an 8-5 lead. UConn called two timeouts before the first media timeout, and didn’t retake the lead until Giffey made a layup 6 minutes into the game.
But UConn was able to stretch things out from there. Giffey’s steal, dunk and free throw _ part of a 16-2 run _ gave the Huskies a 27-14 lead.
Daniels hit all five of his shots in the first half, including two 3-pointers, and the Huskies were 7 of 15 from behind the arc in the opening 20 minutes.
They lead reached 45-24 on a layup by Calhoun. He, Daniels, Giffey and Boatright all were in double figures before halftime.
“We really wanted to keep them away from the rim, keep them away from the deep paint, and hope that we challenged enough 3s that they weren’t going to get comfortable,” said Maine coach Ted Woodward, who began his career as a graduate assistant on Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun’s staff in 1986. “Obviously, they were very comfortable.”
Calhoun was 4 of 9 from 3-point range to break out of a mini-slump that saw him score just 23 points over his last five games.
“I just watched film and saw what was technically wrong with my shot,” Calhoun said.
Pollard and Dimitry Akanda-Coronel had 24 of the Black Bear’s 31 first-half points. Akanda-Coronel didn’t score in the second half and finished with nine points.
The Huskies haven’t lost to a non-conference opponent in Connecticut since a 77-73 setback to Indiana on Jan. 20, 2007.
Maine, which was coming of an 81-72 loss to NJIT, has lost 12 straight to Connecticut, and hasn’t beaten UConn since 1978. UConn leads the overall series 83-12.
The Huskies have almost two weeks off for final exams before hosting Stanford on Dec. 18.
“It’s good to get some rest, get our knees and legs back under us,” Boatright said. “But for us, playing for KO, it’s always bad when you’ve got to go 12 days straight practicing, no games.”
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