Dyson leads UConn to upset of No. 1 Texas 88-74
STORRS, Conn. (AP)—Connecticut lost its coach this week, but found its swagger.
Jerome Dyson scored a career-high 32 points and UConn overcame a 10-point second-half deficit to upset top-ranked Texas 88-74 on Saturday.
Kemba Walker had 19 points and 10 assists, and Stanley Robinson added 17 points and 12 rebounds for UConn (13-6), which again was without coach Jim Calhoun, who missed his second game on a doctor-ordered leave of absence.
“We’ve got to play for him,” said Dyson, who said Calhoun was proud and excited on the phone after the game. “We know these wins will help him get better, because it will take some of the stress off him having to worry about us, and he can focus on getting himself better.”
It was the Longhorns’ second consecutive loss after winning their first 17 games, and all but ensures that Texas will fall from the top spot in the poll on Monday.
“I think it has been great for the younger guys to go through this and realize that right now, at this time of year, the intensity has got to go up,” said Texas coach Rick Barnes.
The win likely will put the Huskies back into the Top 25 after they missed the poll for the first time in 36 weeks. It was their second straight victory after three consecutive losses, and UConn’s first win over a ranked opponent this season in five attempts.
“Now you know you’re good, you know you can play,” said George Blaney, Calhoun’s longtime assistant, who is running the team in his absence. “You just beat the number-one team in the country, so that should tell you that you’re good.”
Damion James had 23 points and seven rebounds for Texas (17-2), and Avery Bradley added 15 points for the Longhorns, who lost to Kansas State 71-63 on Monday.
“It’s tough, and I’d be lying to you if I said it ain’t,” said James. “We’ll get back on a roll now. I know me and I know this team and we’ll get back going. Maybe this is what it takes to bring us back down to reality.”
Texas controlled this game early. The Longhorns led 42-34 at the half, and 44-34 after UConn committed its 17th turnover of the game on the second-half inbound pass.
That’s when Dyson got going. He made two steals, one of which he converted into a fast-break dunk to pull the Huskies to 44-41.
A 13-0 run gave UConn a 58-52 lead.
The Huskies tied the game at 52 on a free throw by Ater Majok with 12:52 to play, and the sellout crowd erupted when the Huskies took their first lead of the half when Dyson hit a pull-up jumper on their next possession.
A reverse layup by Walker gave UConn a 10-point lead at 68-58, and his 25-foot 3-pointer as the shot clock was expiring made it 71-58 with 6:11 left.
Dyson extended the lead to 15 with another 3-pointer with 4:55 left.
“Once we started making a big play here and a big play here and the crowd got going, the energy just went through us,” Dyson said.
UConn came into the game 1-6 all-time against the nation’s No. 1 team and had never before hosted a top-ranked team on campus. They had only one previous home game against a No. 1, losing to Kansas in 1997 in Hartford.
Dyson, whose previous career high had been 27, scored 18 in the second half. Walker had 17 after intermission.
Texas nibbled away at the lead, cutting it to 11 late. But Connecticut, which had been shooting 67 percent from the foul line, was 26 of 37 in this one and hit enough down the stretch to win.
The Longhorns jumped out to an early 20-11 lead, capitalizing on nine UConn turnovers and the shooting of James, who had nine early points.
UConn hit five of its first six shots and outrebounded Texas 5-0 to start the game, but needed a 9-0 run to tie it.
The Longhorns kept coming in waves, using 12 players in the first half, eight of whom scored. They forced 16 UConn turnovers before intermission, but the Huskies had just four after that.
“That was my point of emphasis in the second half,” said Walker, who had eight of the Huskies’ turnovers, all but two before intermission.
Texas committed 30 personal fouls. Guard Dogus Balbay picked up his fourth with 8:39 left and Dexter Pittman got his fourth less than a minute later and fouled out with 3:15 remaining.
Connecticut was ranked as high as 10th in late December but fell out of the Top 25 this week after a three-game losing streak.
The Huskies are now 19-4 when Calhoun has missed games.
This was the first meeting between the two teams since Texas defeated Connecticut 82-78 in the regional semifinals of the 2003 NCAA tournament.