HARTFORD, Conn. (AP)—As the Connecticut players were introduced before the Georgetown game, the crowd at the Hartford Civic Center reserved its loudest ovation for Hilton Armstrong.
And why not.
The 6-foot-11 senior center has certainly earned it over the past several games and he did again on Saturday.
Armstrong had 19 points and six blocked shots in No. 4 Connecticut’s 74-67 victory over the Hoyas. It was his sixth straight game in double figures.
He’s transformed himself from an understudy to All-America Emeka Okafor to the Huskies’ main man inside. Most of all, he’s having a blast.
“I like it more and more every game I play,” Armstrong said. “It’s becoming so much fun for me.”
UConn coach Jim Calhoun saw the potential four years ago in the gangly kid from Peekskill, N.Y. Armstrong always had the touch around the basket and has added more muscle and more patience to now dominate inside, Calhoun said.
“He plays a great game with great enthusiasm,” Calhoun said. “He’s dedicated himself the past year to be a starter this year. He was the difference maker today. He cleaned up the middle by blocking shots and obviously scored a few baskets for us.”
So did Rashad Anderson who hit key 3-pointers down the stretch to help the Huskies (14-1, 2-1 Big East) hold off the Hoyas (10-4, 2-2). The Huskies shot a season-high 60 percent in beating the Hoyas for the 11th straight time.
Anderson scored 12 points, including a 3-pointer early in the second half just after the Hoyas got within 39-36 on consecutive baskets by Jeff Green. After Anderson’s 3 gave the Huskies some breathing room, he stole the ball on Georgetown’s next possession and the Huskies capitalized with a layup by Jeff Adrien. Anderson’s second layup with 9:47 left gave UConn its largest second-half lead, 51-40.
But Ashanti Cook hit two 3-pointers and converted a three-point play over a 2-minute stretch and Georgetown was right back in it.
The Huskies turned to Armstrong to change the momentum and he delivered. He scored six straight points with under 5 minutes to play on two strong inside baskets and two free throws and the Hoyas would get not closer than four points the rest of the way.
“Their players stepped up and made key plays,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “(Armstrong) can score down low, he can make a shot, he’s long, he’s athletic. And he has some pretty good players around him.”’
Brandon Bowman led Georgetown with 20 points and Green added 13 points and eight rebounds. Cook was 3-of-6 on 3-pointers and finished with 11 points.
UConn point guard Marcus Williams made his first start Saturday since rejoining the team earlier this month. The junior point guard, last season’s Big East assist leader, served a one-semester suspension after his arrest this summer in the theft of student laptops. He finished with 14 points and eight assists.
Adrien had 10 rebounds in 18 minutes of play.
Armstrong had 10 points and three blocked shots in the first half. His block on 7-2 Roy Hibbert kicked off a fastbreak and Rudy Gay finished it with jumper to give UConn a 25-16 lead with 8:57 left. The sequence drew a thunderous ovation from the crowd and an immediate Georgetown timeout.
“I heard (the cheers) coming up the court,” Armstrong said. “They like what I’m doing so I’m happy about that.”