Hasheem Thabeet was the man for the No. 2/2 UConn Huskies tonight as his double-double helped them to a 76-63 win over the No. 16/17 Miami Hurricanes to advance to the finals of the Paradise Jam. They will take on the Wisconsin Badgers who beat the San Diego Toreros in the late game.
Thabeet had 19 points, 14 rebounds and 7 blocked shots to lead the Huskies. A.J. Price also added his own double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds and added 5 assists. Jerome Dyson chipped in with 12 points and Kemba Walker added 11 points off the bench.
For the Hurricanes, Jack McClinton had a game-high 27 points and pulled down 5 boards. The only other Hurricane in double-figures was Dwayne Collins who had 16 points and 14 rebounds. Cyrus McGowan added 8 points in the losing effort.
The Huskies got off to a quick start as they got out a 24-7 lead on the strength of a 16-0 run. During the run, the Hurricanes missed 18 straight shots and were held scoreless for 9 minutes. The Huskies pushed the lead to 33-14 before a 17-2 run by the Hurricanes cut the UConn lead to just 4 points at 35-31. UConn responded by scoring the final 4 points of the half to take an 8 point lead into the locker room.
In the first 7 minutes of the second half, UConn got the lead back up to 15 points before the Canes responded to get the lead back under 10 points. Thabeet then hit two old fashioned 3 point plays to put UConn back up 13 points. The lead went to 17 points behind Thabeet and Price before Miami went on a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 8 points at 69-61 with under 4 minutes to go. The Huskeis stayed strong down the stretch making their free throws and hitting key shots to get the win.
It was a good win for the Huskies who showed their poise by not completely giving in when things got tough. It is concerning to see them lose their big leads but this is a more experienced UConn team that can handle this sort of situation.
Quick turn around for the Huskies as they get set to play the Badgers in the finals of the Paradise Jam tomorrow night at 8:30 PM.