Chattanooga vs Connecticut

Huskies crush Mocs by 56; UConn's Calhoun misses game


West Regional | Edge: Connecticut-Texas A&M

PHILADELPHIA -- His postgame speech to Connecticut was over a speaker phone instead of in a locker room, though the message was still clear.

Coach Jim Calhoun, hospitalized earlier in the day, wanted the Huskies to know he was proud of how they went out and dominated in the third-largest victory in the NCAA tournament.

Calhoun conundrum casts shadow over Huskies' first win
by Mike Freeman
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A.J. Price and Hasheem Thabeet won this for their ailing coach, scoring 20 points apiece to lead top-seeded Connecticut to a 103-47 rout over Chattanooga on Thursday for its first postseason win in three years.

"He was upbeat about everything," Price said. "He told us he couldn't wait to join us again. We can't wait to have him back."

UConn will meet Texas A&M in Saturday's second-round game of the West Regional.

Associate head coach George Blaney coached the Huskies (28-4) in Calhoun's absence. When Calhoun asked for stats, Blaney joked he knew Calhoun, "must be doing well."

Stanley Robinson topped the stat sheet and the Huskies with 24 points.

The 56-point difference was the third-largest margin of victory in the NCAA tournament. The scary part? The Huskies believe it could have been worse.

"We would've been more fired up if Coach was here," Price said. "Chattanooga got off easy without Coach here."

Calhoun was admitted to the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania on Thursday afternoon for tests and will be kept overnight for observation.

An unnamed source told that the 66-year-old Calhoun was treated for dehydration and received IV fluids at the hospital The school did not say what was wrong with the coach.

In a statement released by OConn, Calhoun said he will be re-evaluated Friday morning and hopes to be released then.

The Huskies hope the Hall of Famer will be back healthy and revitalized for the second round, and possibly beyond.

Blaney said Calhoun called him at 11:45 a.m. and told him he felt "under the weather."

Calhoun said in the statement that he has felt lousy the past few days.

UConn sports medicine director Dr. Jeff Anderson "recommended I not coach the game today and stay back at the hotel. As the day went on, he suggested that we go over to the hospital to have some testing done," Calhoun said in the statement. "Fortunately, those tests have all gone well, and I'm feeling much better."

Calhoun missed time in January 2008 with what the team called a combination of stress and exhaustion.

On Wednesday, Calhoun ran UConn's practice in Philadelphia and attended the team's news conference.

"Jim was fine at dinner last night. He woke up this morning and didn't feel well," said Tim Tolokan, UConn's former sports information director and a close friend of Calhoun's.

Calhoun's son, Jeff, was at the Wachovia Center and said his father urged him to watch the Texas A&M-BYU game, which the Aggies won 79-66.

The Southern Conference champion Mocs (18-17) were pumped for their shot at becoming the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 in the tournament. They had a nice start, but were simply overmatched by one of the best teams in basketball.

"They didn't get our best shot," Chattanooga coach John Shulman said. "I'm not saying our best shot was good enough. But if I don't sell our team on (winning), then I'm not a very good coach. We dreamed it. It just wasn't meant to be."

Price, Thabeet, Robinson and the rest of the Huskies are determined to put the 4-3 finish to the season, which included a six-overtime loss to Syracuse in the Big East tournament, behind them and make a serious run at Calhoun's third national title.

"We wanted to win for Coach," Thabeet said. "I was thinking about him."

Price, his rocky run at UConn marked by a brain hemorrhage and suspension, took care of any early thoughts Chattanooga had of pulling off the greatest upset in tournament history.

He hit 3 straight 3-pointers in a 14-0 run that squashed the Mocs and took care of UConn's five-game postseason losing streak dating back to the 2006 regional final.

Price could have shot three airballs in that span and the Mocs still would have been thumped.

"It seems to happen like that for us," Price said. "Once we get rolling, we seem to feed off each other's energy."

Chattanooga went the final 7:39 of the first half without a field goal, and didn't score a point in the second half until Kevin Goffney made two free throws 4:18 into the half.

At that point, UConn's lead was 63-22. The game resembled one of those early November thrashings that lightweight teams are usually paid to take at Gampel Pavilion.

Goffney led the Mocs with 15 points. The Mocs shot a woeful 26 percent from the floor.

"The offense didn't go like we wanted," Goffney said. "It's a bad night for that to happen."

The Huskies, one of three No. 1 seeds out of the Big East, were loose in pregame warmups and that easygoing attitude carried over into one of their easiest victories of the season.

Blaney, who coached Holy Cross in three NCAA tournaments, was introduced as UConn's head coach during introductions and he shook hands with Chattanooga coach John Shulman. That was about the last time Shulman had reason to smile.

The Mocs had a brief, competitive glimpse of what it was like to go head-to-head with the Huskies. Goffney sank a 3-pointer and Jeremy Saffore hit a nice hook shot to pull them within two going into a timeout.

Oh, how the good times didn't last.

Price made his first 3, and then another after Chattanooga missed some easy looks under the basket. Goffney shot an airball, and Price added one more for a 28-15 lead.

Thabeet seemed to wrap up every Mocs miss in the first half, and there were plenty - they missed 26 of 33 attempts.

"We didn't have Coach around. We always play hard when he is around," Thabeet said. "When he isn't around, we're still prepared and we play hard."

Price missed his freshman season after suffering a brain hemorrhage, then sat out another full season for his role in the theft of four laptop computers from a campus dormitory. And when he was poised to make an impact in last year's tournament, he suffered a torn ACL in the first half of Connecticut's overtime loss against San Diego.

That made it two straight NCAA defeats for the Huskies, who didn't make the tournament in 2007, to go along with three straight first-game exits in the Big East tournament. The fifth straight postseason defeat was the classic 127-117 six-overtime thriller against the Orange in a Big East quarterfinal that stretched nearly four hours.

The Huskies were determined to put all the distractions - including Jerome Dyson's season-ending knee injury - behind them and focus on returning to their old dominating form.

"I think we answered a lot of questions today about whether we should be a No. 1 seed or not," Price said.

Now they have to wonder when they'll have Calhoun back. The 66-year-old Calhoun has missed 21 games in his career and he didn't miss much in this lopsided effort.

Robinson slammed home a fantastic alley-oop pass for a 54-20 lead that got the loudest cheers of the game. He ran around the court, waving his arms and encouraged the noise while his teammates mobbed him going into the huddle.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Associate head coach George Blaney fills in for Jim Calhoun as UConn races to a 48-20 halftime lead.
Associate head coach George Blaney fills in for Jim Calhoun as UConn races to a 48-20 halftime lead. (AP)
Chattanooga #16202747
Connecticut #1 «4855103
TNCHAT:Kevin Goffney 15 Pts
TNCHAT:Khalil Hartwell 6 Reb
TNCHAT:Zach Ferrell 2 Ast
CT:S. Robinson 24 Pts
CT:J. Adrien 16 Reb
CT:C. Austrie 7 Ast

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H. Thabeet
K. Goffney
Chattanooga Mocs
S. McDowell, G311-120-03212
K. Goffney, F305-122-251415
N. Doaks, F253-103-46049
K. Hartwell, F212-71-26045
K. Sheard, G161-30-01252
T. Patterson, G201-50-00122
J. Williams, G170-22-21102
D. Harvey, F120-30-02030
C. Early, F83-60-04118
Z. Ferrell, G70-10-01210
R. Taylor, G60-20-01100
J. Saffore, C51-30-03022
J. Smith, G20-00-00000
D. Hampton, GDid Not Play
Totals 17-668-1033112847
Connecticut Huskies
J. Adrien, F334-75-13164113
S. Robinson, F2911-172-270124
A. Price, G277-151-263220
C. Austrie, G270-84-42714
H. Thabeet, C206-88-12130120
K. Walker, G254-72-236110
G. Edwards, F172-21-24145
D. Beverly, G83-40-01507
S. Haralson, G60-20-02200
J. Mandeldove, C30-10-01000
J. Bird, G20-00-00000
J. Lindner, F20-00-21000
J. Veronick, F10-00-01000
J. Dyson, GDid Not Play
A. Hornat, FDid Not Play
K. Bailey, GDid Not Play
C. Okwandu, CDid Not Play
Totals 37-7123-39572811103
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
W. Carolina0-03-7197

Big East
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Seton Hall0-09-120
St. Johns0-08-218
Other games
Butler 71 Final
LSU 75
Nridge 70 Final
Memphis 81
Tx A&M 79 Final
BYU 66
N Iowa 56 Final
Purdue 61
RAD 58 Final
NC 101
MD 84 Final
California 71
Miss St 58 Final
Wash 71
Minn 62 Final
Texas 76
Michigan 62 Final
AMER 67 Final
Akron 64 Final
BING 62 Final
Morg St 54 Final
Oklahoma 82
VCU 64 Final
W Ky 76 Final
Illinois 72