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UCONN 91, UMASS 67

Score it a quick TKO

UMass is no match for powerful UConn

HARTFORD -- If it were a boxing match, last night's game between No. 1-ranked Connecticut and unranked Massachusetts would have been over in the first round.

 

It wasn't fisticuffs, but it wasn't a basketball contest, either. It was an exhibition, an evening of Connecticut pride as 16,294 at Hartford Civic Center watched their Huskies dismantle UMass, 91-67.

Fans savored the flawless game of Ben Gordon, the tireless work of Emeka Okafor in the paint, and the Parcellian antics of coach Jim Calhoun on the sideline.

It was UConn's 13th consecutive victory over UMass and its 22d in the last 23 meetings. UMass had a three-game winning streak snapped.

UMass coach Steve Lappas said UConn has all the pieces.

"What other team in the nation has two juniors who are All-Americans? They are as extinct as Tyrannosaurus Rex. Junior All-Americans don't exist. They aren't around any more and Jim has two of them," said Lappas, who ranked UConn with the great Huskies teams of the past, and Gordon with the likes of Ray Allen.

Gordon finished with a game-high 34 points in 27 minutes and Okafor, among the top rebounders and shot blockers in the nation, had a game-high 10 boards and 5 rejections in 20 minutes. "I always had confidence in my shooting. It's just that they are falling in a lot more now," said Gordon. "When you start making shots like that, you can see how demoralized they are in their faces." He saw it in the faces of the UMass players last night.

In the second half, with the Huskies rolling along with an 86-55 lead with 4:20 to play, Calhoun was whistled for a technical foul, unhappy with the fifth personal on Okafor.

It wasn't the first time he was irate. In the first half, as his team rolled to a 55-29 lead, he was off the bench, berating bad shots and missed defensive assignments. Vintage Calhoun. Vintage Connecticut.

Calhoun said he was mad at three "very good Big East officials, because they didn't call the game right. We are being penalized because we are bigger, stronger, and better than they were."

From the opening tip until they had a 40-point lead in the second half, the Huskies were at full throttle.

With a big lead, Calhoun called off the press and tried to work on set plays. That's when he got angry at the officials.

UMass (5-5) shouldn't feel bad. UConn (10-1) has been humiliating everybody since its loss to Georgia Tech Nov. 26, eight games ago. UConn has beaten its last eight opponents by an average of 33 points.

UMass never had a chance. In the first 2 minutes 24 seconds the Minutemen were flattened by an 18-wheeler with Connecticut license plates. Two missed shots and a couple of turnovers turned into an 11-0 advantage.

UMass's first points came on a pair of Rashaun Freeman foul shots with 17:36 to play in the half. Its first points from the floor came at 16:19 when Jeff Viggiano (team-high 22 points) went up for a baseline drive and Okafor knocked it off the rim.

The first honest-to-goodness basket was a desperation, fallaway bank-shot in the paint by Freeman at 15:11 that made it 17-5. That was as close as UMass would get.

Gordon hit 3-pointers while closely guarded and turnaround jumpers that found nothing but net. In the first 12 minutes, he had more points than UMass.

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