No. 14 UConn beats Central Florida 60-51
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP)—Connecticut got bigger on Sunday with the addition of 6-foot-11 freshman Ater Majok. It wasn’t immediately clear if the Huskies have gotten better.
Stanley Robinson scored 26 points and No. 14 UConn came from behind to beat Central Florida 60-51.
Robinson scored 23 of his points in the second half, helping Connecticut (7-2) overcome a 9-point deficit.
Jerome Dyson added 16 points, despite hitting just five of 15 shots from the floor.
Majok, heralded forward with 7-7 wingspan, had a less than auspicious debut, scoring a single point and grabbing 3 rebounds. The former refugee from Sudan had not been eligible until the end of the 2009 fall semester.
“I’m not going to put the game behind me,” he said. “The game is going to be a learning experience. It’s always going to be there. Every time I feel like, ‘Why am I here?’ that will be my motivation.”
Freshman guard Marcus Jordan, the son of Michael Jordan, led Central Florida (7-4) with a season-high 13 points. A.J. Tyler had 12, but fouled out with just under 3 minutes left.
Connecticut, which had not played since a 64-61 loss to No. 3 Kentucky on Dec. 9, came out of the gate slowly, turning the ball over 13 times and making just five of 14 shots in the first half.
The Huskies were booed going into the locker room, down 25-20.
“Going a week and a half without playing and just going back and forth between practice and then going to exams and studying for hours, that will definitely take its toll on you,” said UConn forward Gavin Edwards. “We should have been able to get up for the game today, but we just came out dead.”
UConn trailed 31-22 before Robinson sparked the Huskies. His alley-oop dunk tied the game at 35, and a pair of foul shots with just under 12 minutes left gave UConn its first lead of the second half, 39-37.
His putback dunk with under a minute left made it 58-49.
“We didn’t put in our best effort, and we didn’t do what we were supposed to do, but we did get the win, and I guess that’s what matters,” Robinson said.
UConn was outrebounded by the Knights 36-34, and the Huskies had just nine offensive boards. Dave Diakite had 12 rebounds for Central Florida. Gavin Edwards had 11 for UConn.
“I thought we battled them pretty hard on the glass and fought hard,” UCF coach Kirk Speraw said. “We missed an awful lot of shots, so we had more opportunities to get some offensive rebounds than they did.”
Majok started and received a standing ovation when he was introduced. He played just 2 1/2 minutes and got a seat on the bench after his man, Keith Clanton, scored four quick points.
He received another ovation when he made a free throw with just over 4 1/2 minutes left in the first half, his only point of the game.
That was the highlight of his night. He left the game for the final time late in the second half after Calhoun used an expletive and told him to sit down.
“I take that as a motivation,” Majok said. “The more he cusses me out on the court, the more he yells at me, the more I know that he loves me and at the end of the day he wants me to be the best I can be.”
Majok committed to UConn in May 2008 and has been practicing with the team since January. He fled civil war in Sudan with his family when he was just 5 years old and spent eight years in an Egyptian refuge camp before his family moved to Australia in 2001 with the help of the United Nations.
That is where he came to the attention of UConn assistant Andre LeFleur, who had played pro ball in Australia.
UCF has lost 11 consecutive times to Top 25 teams.
It was the Knights’ third game of the season against a Big East team. They lost 90-72 at Notre Dame on Dec. 6 and fell 69-65 to South Florida on Wednesday.