Stanley Robinson went into the game tonight against the Louisville Cardinals coming off his best game of the season. Tonight, he wasn’t heard from due to some foul trouble and as scary as it sounds, his foul trouble may have saved the No. 1 UConn Huskies.
With Robinson in foul trouble, Jim Calhoun went to a 3-guard lineup and that did the trick to solve Louisville’s pressure as the Huskies picked up a 68-51 win over the Cardinals in front of 20,069 at Freedom Hall in Louisville.
The win for the Huskies improves their record to 21-1 (10-1) while the Cardinals fall to 17-4 (8-1). With Louisville losing, the Marquette Golden Eagles remain the only undefeated Big East team.
The undisputed leader of the Huskies, Jeff Adrien, led them with 18 points and added 7 rebounds. Hasheem Thabeet dominated again on the defensive end with 4 blocks and had another double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Jerome Dyson also had 14 points while A.J. Price had 11 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists. Kemba Walker had a good game off the bench with 8 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
Terrence Williams was the only offense Rick Pitino’s Cardinals had as he led all scorers with 26 points. Preston Knowles added 9 points and Earl Clark had 5 points on 2-of-16 shooting.
After Robinson went out with 2 fouls two minutes into the game, UConn went with the 3-guard set and after they settled down, it worked. They were trailing 14-9 when they went on a 12-0 run holding the Cardinals scoreless for 7:10. The Cardinals responded though with 8 straight points in the course of a minute and 10 seconds.
The game really seemed to change when Louisville went from a 2-3 zone to man-to-man on defense. This allowed the Huskies to use the transition game to their advantage and go on a 17-4 to close out the first half leading 38-26.
Price scored the first 3 points of the second half forcing Pitino to call a timeout just 49 seconds into the half. The lead stayed between 15-16 points until Louisville cut the lead to 13 points with 11:35 to go in the game. A 4-0 run by the Huskies gave them their biggest lead at 57-40. The Cardinals would only get as close as 13 points the rest of the way.
A great win for UConn in a hostile environment. The Cardinals had already beaten one No. 1 team this season in Pittsburgh but Adrien and company made sure that another No. 1 wasn’t falling. Hopefully Robinson is able to shake this game off and rebound back again like he did last Saturday.
The Huskies will close out the non-conference portion of their schedule when the Michigan Wolverines come to Gampel Pavilion on Saturday night. Tip is scheduled for 6 PM and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
Notes and musings:
The starters were A.J. Price, Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson, Jeff Adrien and Hasheem Thabeet.
UConn is now 16-2 all-time as the No.1 team on the road and are 37-7 all-time as the top team.
This is the 8th time and 26th week that the Huskies have been the No. 1 team in the country.
Jim Calhoun now is 5 wins (795) away from 800 in his career and 3 wins (547) from 550 at UConn.
There were 30 NBA scouts at the game tonight.
UConn shot 47.1% (24-51) from the floor while Louisville shot 34.4% (22-64).
The Huskies had 12 assists on their 24 made baskets.
UConn attempted 8 three-pointers and didn’t make any.
The Huskies won the battle of the boards 38-34.
I’m happy to report I’m very pleased with the Huskies free throw shooting tonight as they were 20-of-24 (83.3%). Louisville only got to the line two times and made both of them.
UConn outscored Louisville 40-18 in the paint and both teams had 12 fastbreak points.
The Huskies had 16 turnovers and the Cardinals had 18.