STORRS, Conn. (AP)—This season, Connecticut didn’t wait until the second half to put Albany away.
Freshman Gavin Edwards scored 16 points, and sophomore Marcus Johnson had 14 in leading the 18th-ranked Huskies to a 86-55 win over the Great Danes in Sunday.
Six Huskies scored in double figures and UConn scored 21 fast-break points and held Albany to two.
Last spring, in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Connecticut had to overcome a 12-point deficit in the final 11 minutes to win, 72-59.
“Last year we had a great team, but we didn’t have a lot of guard defense,” said UConn coach Jim Calhoun. “This year, we’re a little different than the team we had last year. If we don’t run, we’re crazy.”
The Huskies (5-0) ran a lot, and scored 35 points off of 21 Albany turnovers.
Edwards, a 6-foot-9 forward, had scored only one point and grabbed two rebounds in UConn’s first four games. But he sparked a 22-4 first half run that put the game away, scoring seven points in his first three minutes, including the layup and free throw that put UConn up for good, 20-18. He hit all four of his first-half shots.
“That’s pretty much what coach expects me to do, just bring a lot of energy to the floor and turn the game around,” Edwards said.
Johnson scored 11 in the first half, many in transition. When 7-3 Hasheem Thabeet picked up a loose ball and found Johnson ahead of everyone for the dunk, UConn led 36-22. The Huskies stretched the lead to 47-31 at intermission.
“Great defense always leads to great offense,” Johnson said. “I love running the floor, I love the open-floor, fast-paced game.”
Thabeet had 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots. A.J. Price added 13 points, Jerome Dyson 12, and Jeff Adrien scored 11 and had seven boards.
It was the first time Adrien had failed to get a double-double this season.
Jason Siggers had 16 points and seven rebounds for Albany (2-2). Jamar Wilson, last season’s America East player of the year, scored 18, but hit just five of 15 shots, many with Johnson right in his face.
“I just wanted to contain him, make sure he didn’t get open looks and make sure everything was kind of tough for him,” Johnson said. “He didn’t get any easy shots.”
The Great Danes committed 30 fouls. Brian Connelly fouled out with 11 minutes left in the game when Johnson drove by him for a basket that pushed the lead to 61-42.
“The game got pretty physical and we got a little bit rattled,” said Albany coach Will Brown. “They were crawling up in us and putting a lot of pressure on us. We didn’t handle that well.”
Albany has lost 21 of 24 against current Big East opponents, and is 0-11 against ranked teams since upgrading to Division I in 1999-00.
“Hopefully there are no UConn’s in our league,” Brown said. “We’ll be good when it’s all said and done.”
The victory extended the Huskies’ home winning streak to 24 games.