Fri, 12/05/2008 - 04:51 — Press Release
BUFFALO, NY - The last time Connecticut played a game at the University at
Buffalo was 1951. You can bet it will be another 50 years before the Huskies
return to Amherst after the Bulls put a major scare into the nation's
second-ranked team. UB fell to Connecticut, 68-64, before a frenzied crowd
at Alumni Arena.
The Bulls were led by Rodney Pierce who scored a
career-high 28 points. The junior shooting guard was a one-man wrecking crew
early as he scored the Bulls' first eight points, helping UB jump out to an
8-2 lead. A lay-up by Sean Smiley put the Bulls ahead 24-16. Connecticut
rattled off 11 unanswered points to take a two-point advantage. A leaning
jumper by Pierce in the closing seconds of the half tied the game at 32.
Both teams traded baskets for much of the second half before UConn took
a 63-56 lead, its largest of the game, with 4:18 remaining. However, an
undaunted Bulls squad kept battling and a pair of free throws by Pierce cut
the Huskies' lead to 66-64 with 43 seconds left. On Connecticut's ensuing
possession, Jawaan Alston and Calvin Betts converged on UConn's Kemba Walker
on the sideline, forcing him to turn the ball over. However, Walker atoned
for his miscue as he knocked the ball away from Pierce who was driving to
the basket for the tying score in the closing seconds of the game.
The difference in the game was the play of Connecticut's 7-3 center
Hasheem Thabeet. He finished the night with 21 points, 18 rebounds and four
blocked shots. However, the Bulls did a good job keeping Thabeet off the
offensive glass, holding the Huskies' big man to only two offensive
Connecticut was a team that averaged nearly 10 rebounds more
than its opponents this year, yet on Thursday both teams grabbed 37 boards.
Buffalo had a season-low seven turnovers - three less that UConn.
thought Reggie had his team incredibly well-prepared. They didn't try any
tricks. That's how they play," Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun said.
"Quite frankly, they probably outplayed us in the game. They outworked us at
Max Boudreau scored 10 points and Betts added nine for the
Another major difference in the game was the free throw shooting.
The Huskies went to the free throw line 26 times while the Bulls were only
9-for-10 from the charity stripe. The Bulls were whistled for 14 more fouls
"We came into this game not seeing ourselves as
the underdogs," freshman forward Mitchell Watt said. "We believe in
ourselves, we take pride in playing for UB and we think that we are prepared
to take it to anybody who comes in here."