UConn Men's Basketball: Price, Huskies get last laugh

Josh Katzowitz

In the days between its victory over Marquette, one of the UConn men’s basketball team’s most impressive wins of the season, and Wednesday’s game with Cincinnati, the Huskies didn’t mind talking about the Bearcats.

UConn point guard A.J. Price said if you kept a body in front of Cincinnati sophomore guard Deonta Vaughn, he wasn’t too tough to stop. Vaughn begged to differ.

“I take heed to what he said,” said Vaughn, who hit 8-of-11 3-pointers and finished with 34 points. “If he feels that way, he can look at the box score.”

Price probably would rather look at the final scoreboard.

Although UConn coach Jim Calhoun unleashed Jerome Dyson and Craig Austrie to defend Vaughn for much of the second half, the Huskies had a tough time stopping him.

Using big 3-pointers by Vaughn, the Bearcats turned a 56-53 deficit into a 74-62 lead late in the game. Afterward, Price said he was impressed.

“He’s a great shooter — a great shooter — and we knew that,” Price said. “But he wasn’t killing us by going right by people. He’s just a great shooter. Once he gets it going, it’s hard to stop him.”

But the Huskies were determined to do exactly that as they held a one-point lead with 9 seconds to play.

The plan, Price said, was for him to shadow Cincinnati point guard Jamual Warren, not a great long-distance shooter, and then double-team Vaughn with Jerome Dyson. UConn certainly didn’t want him taking the final shot for the Bearcats.

“At the end, we decided to sell out and double-team,” Calhoun said. “We would let somebody else beat us.”

Nobody else could. After Price left Warren to double-team Vaughn, Vaughn lost the ball, recovered it and flicked it to Cincinnati senior forward Marcus Sikes in the corner.

Sikes missed the potential game-winner.

“Stopping Vaughn is a Herculean task,” Calhoun said. “He’s a great basketball player and a great competitor. I liked the fact he was going to try to make the play at the end even though we were giving him all kinds of pressure.”

Not happy with the refs

The crowd of 10,481 let the referee trio of Ed Hightower, Brian O’Connell and Ed Corbert know their displeasure throughout the game. Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin and Calhoun weren’t happy either.

Both received technical fouls , and the teams shot a combined 57 free throws. For such a physical game, though, it probably wasn’t enough for Calhoun.

Passing last year’s mark

With its road victory against Cincinnati, the Huskies — now 3-2 on the road this season — surpassed their total from last season when they struggled to a 2-8 mark away from home.

“It’s great,” Dyson said. “We couldn’t do it last year. This year, we’re a lot better.”