Robinson’s 18 leads No. 13 UConn to 96-51 win over Bearcats
STORRS, Conn. (AP)—Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun got the response from his team that he had hoped to see heading into this week’s Big East tournament.
The 13th-ranked Huskies (24-7, 13-5) rebounded from one of their worst defensive efforts and closed out the regular season with one of their best—a 96-51 rout of Cincinnati on Sunday. It was the Huskies’ largest margin of win in the conference in school history.
The win came three days after UConn lost 85-76 at Providence, stumbling along the way with 21 turnovers. The coaching staff replayed the tape of that game in preparation for Cincinnati and edited out the few things the Huskies did well. Calhoun said he wanted to “show them just how bad they were.”
They got the message.
“Tonight we played great, great defense,” Calhoun said. “In turn, as our defense got good, our offense got terrific.”
Stanley Robinson scored 18 points and had eight rebounds. Hasheem Thabeet finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and eight blocked shots, setting a Big East season record with 94.
The game was postponed a day because of the Midwest snowstorm that grounded the Bearcats until Saturday night. With an extra day to prepare, Calhoun said they focused on helping out on defense.
“Hopefully we tried to make it a statement game that we can play defense and that was my whole key,” Calhoun said.
The Huskies put this one away early with a 30-0 run in the first half. The UConn defense held the Bearcats (13-17, 8-10) scoreless for nearly 11 minutes.
Robinson had three 3-pointers in the spurt and the Huskies led 47-15 at the break. The Bearcats managed just 16 percent shooting in the first half, and struggled with UConn’s speedy transition game that started with tough defense in the post.
The Huskies also finished 9-17 from behind the arc.
Bearcats coach Mick Cronin said the last three days had been a travel “debacle” and that his team hadn’t played well lately.
“We looked like a tired ball club, but you have to give Connecticut credit. Because of their size and athleticism, if they make perimeter shots the way they made them tonight, especially early in the game, it doesn’t leave you with a lot of options as a coach.”
Jeff Adrien finished with 13 points for UConn, and Craig Austrie added 15.
The game was in sharp contrast to UConn’s 84-83 win in Cincinnati on Jan. 23. The Huskies rallied from 12 points down with just under 6 minutes left for the win. It was the second victory in a 10-game winning streak for the Huskies that eventually landed them in the Top 25.
Deonta Vaughn, who had 34 points for the Bearcats in the last meeting, was held to nine.
The Huskies shot 57 percent from the floor and made 25-of-30 from the foul line.
Thabeet said the Huskies made good on their goal of atoning for their sloppy loss against the Friars.
“That game we were so flat. We played lousy,” Thabeet said. “This time we’re going to start being alert from the beginning of the game to the end. We went out there and showed (Cincinnati) today was going to be a long day, and it was a long day.”