HARTFORD, Conn. (AP)—His team down 13 points in the second half, Connecticut reserve freshman guard Antonio Kellogg stepped onto the floor with one thing on his mind—defense.
“Stops. Just getting stops. That was the only thing that was going to get us the ‘W,”’ Kellogg said.
He delivered. Kellogg made a key steal and helped spark a 17-1 run to rally No. 7 Connecticut to a 74-69 win over Indiana on Saturday.
Kellogg’s 3-pointer kicked off the spurt and his steal and coast-to-coast layup brought the crowd of 16,294 to its feet. Josh Boone’s inside bucket capped the run for a 56-55 UConn lead, which the Huskies never relinquished.
Bracey Wright led the Hoosiers (2-2) with 28 points and four steals. It was the second of four straight games for Indiana against a ranked opponent. The Hoosiers lost 70-63 at No. 9 North Carolina on Wednesday night. They face No. 20 Notre Dame and No. 8 Kentucky next.
Rashad Anderson scored 17 points and Rudy Gay had 10 rebounds for the Huskies. UConn’s bigger frontcourt, which has outrebounded opponents by an average of 30 boards this season, was neutralized early by Indiana’s nearly all-guard lineup.
“It was going to be a hard game to dominate when the pace of the game wasn’t quite the way we wanted it to be,” UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. “Our counter adjustment was to go small ourselves and I think our small guys were good enough.”
Kellogg helped shut down Wright, who had been able to shake free of UConn’s big men. With Kellogg—who finished with seven points and three rebounds in 18 minutes—and point guard Marcus Williams on the floor, the Huskies were able to attack and jump start their transition game.
“They picked up their pressure on the floor. We weren’t patient enough to play through and try to get open shots and open layups,” Indiana coach Mike Davis said. “We stopped executing and I think part of it is the way they picked up defensively.”
The Hoosiers pulled within two points with 3:45 left on a free throw by Robert Vaden, but UConn hit 7-of-10 free throws down the stretch.
The Huskies struggled with turnovers and poor shooting, but UConn’s bigger frontcourt played stingy defense in the closing minutes and outrebounded the Hoosiers 53-38.
Boone finished with 12 points and eight rebounds and Gay added 11 points. Williams led UConn with eight assists.
Vaden had 13 points for Indiana.
The game was No. 600 for Calhoun at UConn. In his 19th season with the Huskies, Calhoun has a 435-165 record and two national titles.
Both teams started out cold from the floor. But after hitting just six of their first 26 shots, the Hoosiers found their perimeter offense.
Wright had four of his 16 first-half points in a 14-4 run. His jumper with 2:34 remaining gave Indiana its biggest lead of the half at 33-25.
“This is the best we’ve run into this season,” Wright said. “You saw us execute for most of the game to a ‘T’ exactly how we want to do it. This is something we have to put together for 40 minutes.”
Indiana scored 10 points off nine UConn turnovers in the period and led 38-33 at the break.
The 6-foot-10 Boone, who finished with five blocked shots, wasn’t used to playing against the smaller lineup.
“It was kind of frustrating for a guy my size to have to run around the court all day, but that’s something we have to do,” Boone said. “And obviously if teams are going to do that, we’re going to have to work on that a lot more.”