Vermont falls to No. 23 UConn 67-49

  • Article by: PAT EATON-ROBB
  • Associated Press
  • November 13, 2012 - 9:56 PM

STORRS, Conn. - Vermont's Luke Apfeld believes his team's offense will come around, and shots will eventually fall.

They just haven't in the Catamounts first two games.

Vermont (1-1) made just 15 baskets and shot 30 percent Tuesday, falling 67-49 to No. 23 Connecticut in the Huskies home opener. That followed a 32.7 percent shooting performance in the Catamounts' one-point win Friday over Siena.

"It's a fine balance between hitting the right shots and not trying to do too much," said Apfeld, who led Vermont with nine points. "We've got so many new guys and everybody's trying to find their role, especially this early on."

Shabazz Napier scored all of his 13 points in the second half and freshman Omar Calhoun added 12 to lead UConn (2-0).

Holy Cross transfer R.J. Evans hit all five of his shots and finished with 11 points, and Tyler Olander had nine points, nine rebounds and four blocks for the Huskies.

"We didn't have a guy that had 25 points," said Ollie. "But that shows that we can win in different ways."

Four Vermont players had eight points. But The Catamounts hit just three of their 15 shots from 3-point range and were forced into 16 turnovers.

"They are really physical," said Vermont coach John Becker. "It's hard to get anywhere. It seems like you're bumping into people all over the place out there."

The Huskies used a 12-3 run to stretch a 39-29 lead to 19 points midway through the second half and cruised from there.

A behind the back pass from Ryan Boatright to DeAndre Daniels for a fast-break dunk made it 54-34 and gave the Huskies their biggest lead of the game.

UConn, which hit nine of its first 10 shots against Michigan State, made three of its first four against Vermont to jump out to an early 7-2 lead, while holding the Catamounts to just one bucket on eight shots.

But the Huskies cooled considerably from there. A 3-pointer by Trey Blue gave the Catamounts a 10-9 lead, but UConn used tough defense to regain control. The Huskies went on a 12-4 run to take a 27-17 lead and were up 32-23 at the half.

Vermont's Ethan O'Day, who played with UConn's Tyler Olander at nearby E.O. Smith High School, picked up his fourth foul less than two minutes into the second half, forcing Becker to use a smaller lineup.

"It's his second college game, so I've got to be patient with him," Becker said. "But that's something he's got to get a better understanding of."

But despite being without their 6-foot-9 freshman, the Catamounts outrebounded UConn 39-32. Michigan State outrebounded the Huskies 43-29 on Friday and Ollie said that is his biggest concern.

"Defense is rebounding, it's ending the possession with a rebound," Ollie said. "So at the end of the day that 30 (percent shooting percentage for Vermont) could have been 20. I know I'm being greedy."

Calhoun, who didn't score Friday, is expected to be a big contributor on a team that returns just five players who had significant playing time last season. Five other underclassmen left the team in the offseason.

"I'm getting a better feeling for the game," he said. "I'm not anywhere near where I want to be yet, but I'm going to continue to get better as the season continues."

Connecticut's season-opening 66-62 win over the Spartans propelled the Huskies into The AP Top 25 for the first time since January.

Vermont, favored to win its conference again this season, has won 20 games nine times over the past 11 years.

But they have rarely had an answer for the Huskies. UConn has won the last seven games in the series and 47 of the 55 the teams have played.

UConn has won its first game of the season in Gampel Pavilion every year since the on-campus facility opened in 1990, and the Huskies are 71-4 all-time against non-conference opponents in their on-campus arena.

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