STORRS, Conn. (AP) - UConn forward DeAndre Daniels was having back spasms Friday and wasn't sure he would be able to play against Harvard.
He fought through the pain to score a career-high 23 points to lead Connecticut to a 57-49 win.
"I just kept scoring and kept getting more confidence in myself and my teammates kept looking for me, and I was knocking down my shots," he said. "(The pain) was going away."
Ryan Boatright added 16 points for the Huskies (7-2), who were coming off a four-point loss to No. 25 North Carolina State earlier in the week.
Wesley Saunders had 14 points and Steve Moundou-Missi added 10 for Harvard (4-4).
Harvard trailed by three at halftime and was down just 33-32 after a layup by Saunders early in the second half.
But the Huskies went on a 13-2 run over the next 7 1/2 minutes and stretched that lead to 12. An alley-oop from Shabazz Napier to Niels Giffey made it 46-34 and brought the crowd to their feet, and UConn was able to keep Harvard at arm's length the rest of the way.
"They were getting their confidence on, and any team is dangerous once they get their confidence," Boatright said. "Once they cut it to one, we knew we had to stop their run, and break their hearts again."
Daniels began getting back spasms in the Huskies' loss to North Carolina State on Tuesday. But he felt good enough to start and had 15 points in the first half and eight during a 15-2 UConn run that opened the game.
"He just controlled the game ... and then showed the toughness that we want," UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. "With the back spasms, it locked up during the first TV timeout and he just continued to play."
The Crimson missed their first six shots, and had five turnovers before they scored their first basket, a dunk by Jonah Travis, six minutes into the game.
UConn, meanwhile, hit six of its first seven shots.
Junior center Enosch Wolf made his first career start after putting up career highs of 12 points and nine rebounds against North Carolina State. He blocked the game's first shot and had two early baskets in UConn's opening run.
When he went to the bench for a rest, Harvard got back into the game by going on an 11-0 run. Christian Webster had two 3-pointers during that stretch and three in the half.
The Crimson got within a point at 25-24 on a layup by Moundou-Missi, and trailed 27-24 at halftime.
The loss snaps a two-game winning streak for the Crimson, who had beaten Fordham at home and Boston College on the road.
Harvard is playing short-handed all season after losing co-captains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry to a cheating scandal that had them take one-year leaves of absence from the team.
"I'm finding out that we have a scrappy team," Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. "But, we're also finding out that we can't have big stretches of games where we aren't efficient."
Daniels (15), Boatright (eight), and Wolf (four) were the only Huskies to score in the first half. A dunk by Giffey that made it 39-34 midway through the second half was the first basket by another Husky.
Napier had just six points, all in the second half. But he had nine assists and added seven rebounds. Napier had been averaging 18.6 points a game, and almost 13 of those in the second half.
UConn, a guard dominated team, was outrebounded 27-20 and has been outrebounded in eight of its nine games.
Harvard falls to 0-4 against UConn under Amaker, and the Huskies lead the series 16-2. Harvard hasn't beaten UConn since 1972.
The Huskies, who were ranked as high as 21 earlier in the season have played to the level of the competition.
They beat Michigan State and played N.C. State tough, but also won by single digits over Quinnipiac, Stony Brook and New Hampshire.
"For us to play the way we play, Coach is going to get gray hair and he's only 30-something years old," Napier said. "He's going to look like (70-year-old former coach Jim) Calhoun in two months, and we don't want that to happen."
|Connecticut (7-2) «||27||30||57|
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|W. Saunders, F||37||6-11||2-4||3||4||3||14|
|J. Travis, F||25||3-5||0-0||5||1||1||6|
|S. Chambers, G||38||1-5||0-0||3||3||2||3|
|L. Rivard, G||38||2-7||0-0||6||2||2||5|
|C. Webster, G||33||3-8||0-0||2||3||0||9|
|D. Daniels, F||33||9-12||4-4||4||0||1||23|
|E. Wolf, C||20||2-3||0-0||0||1||0||4|
|S. Napier, G||38||2-7||1-2||7||9||1||6|
|R. Boatright, G||35||7-11||0-1||1||3||0||16|
|O. Calhoun, G||26||0-6||0-0||4||0||1||0|