By PAT EATON-ROBB
STORRS, Conn. (AP) _ Kevin Ollie wants his Connecticut teams to
be known for effort and defense. So far, the Huskies are buying
into their new coach’s philosophy.
Shabazz Napier scored all of his 13 points in the second half,
freshman Omar Calhoun added 12 and No. 23 UConn held Vermont to 30
percent shooting Tuesday night in a 67-49 win over the defending
America East champions.
Defense stole the show for the Huskies (2-0), who limited
Vermont (1-1) to just 15 baskets and no fast break points, four
days after holding Michigan State to 37.5-percent shooting in an
upset win over the Spartans in Germany.
“We stress defense a lot because we’re not so big,” said
Calhoun. “We’ve got to play defense, and team defense wins
Holy Cross transfer R.J. Evans hit all five of his shots and
finished with 11 points, and Tyler Olander had nine points, nine
rebounds and four blocks for the Huskies.
“We didn’t have a guy that had 25 points,” said Ollie. “But
that shows that we can win in different ways.”
Luke Apfeld led Vermont (1-1) with nine points and four other
players had eight. The Catamounts hit just three of their 15 shots
from 3-point range and were forced into 16 turnovers.
“They are really physical,” said Vermont coach John Becker.
“It’s hard to get anywhere. It seems like you’re bumping into
people all over the place out there.”
The Huskies used a 12-3 run to stretch a 39-29 lead to 19 points
midway through the second half and cruised from there.
A behind the back pass from Ryan Boatright to DeAndre Daniels
for a fast-break dunk made it 54-34 and gave the Huskies their
biggest lead of the game.
UConn, which hit nine of its first 10 shots against Michigan
State, made three of its first four against Vermont to jump out to
an early 7-2 lead, while holding the Catamounts to just one bucket
on eight shots.
But the Huskies cooled considerably from there. A 3-pointer by
Trey Blue gave the Catamounts a 10-9 lead, but UConn used tough
defense to regain control. The Huskies went on a 12-4 run to take a
27-17 lead and were up 32-23 at the half.
Vermont’s Ethan O’Day, who played with UConn’s Tyler Olander at
nearby E.O. Smith High School, picked up his fourth foul less than
two minutes into the second half. Despite being without their
6-foot-9 freshman, the Catamounts outrebounded UConn 39-32.
Michigan State outrebounded the Huskies 43-29 on Friday and Ollie
said that is his biggest concern.
“Defense is rebounding, it’s ending the possession with a
rebound,” Ollie said. “So at the end of the day that 30 (percent
shooting percentage for Vermont) could have been 20. I know I’m
Calhoun, who didn’t score Friday, is expected to be a big
contributor on a team that returns just five players who had
significant playing time last season. Five other underclassmen left
the team in the offseason.
“I’m getting a better feeling for the game,” he said. “I’m
not anywhere near where I want to be yet, but I’m going to continue
to get better as the season continues.”
Connecticut’s season-opening 66-62 win over the Spartans
propelled the Huskies into The AP Top 25 for the first time since
The home opener was a brief travel respite for the Huskies, who
logged 7,800 miles for their game in Germany against the Spartans.
UConn is back on the road for the Paradise Jam tournament in the
U.S. Virgin Islands this weekend.
Vermont, favored to win its conference again this season, has
won 20 games nine times over the past 11 years.
But they have rarely had an answer for the Huskies. UConn has
won the last seven games in the series and 47 of the 55 the teams
UConn has won its first game of the season in Gampel Pavilion
every year since the on-campus facility opened in 1990, and the
Huskies are 71-4 all-time against non-conference opponents in their
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)