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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — UConn struggled early this season finding an offensive compliment to star guard Ryan Boatright.
The Huskies (6-4) put five players in double figures Sunday, their second straight game with at least four, and the defending national champions routed in-state rival Central Connecticut 81-48.
Boatright led the Huskies with 18 points and backcourt mate Rodney Purvis added 14. Sophomore forward Kentan Facey had his first career double-double for the Huskies scoring 12 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Amida Brimah also scored 12 points, and Omar Calhoun chipped in with 11.
"It's just helping us a lot," Boatright said. "It's making the defense spread out, they can't just load up and take me out of the game."
UConn led by 12 at halftime and turned the game into a rout by outscoring CCSU 22-2 to start the second half.
The Huskies shot 53 percent from the floor, while holding their in-state rivals to just 31 percent. They outrebounded CCSU 42-28 and oustscored the Blue Devils 42-22 in the paint.
Greg Andrade, a former walk-on, led Central Connecticut (2-10) with 12 points, but just two of those came after halftime.
Matt Mobley, who came into the game averaging almost 19 points a game, finished with just nine points for the Blue Devils, hitting just two of his 10 attempts from the floor.
Andrade scored CCSU's first seven points and Central Connecticut hung with the Huskies early. UConn had trouble with the Blue Devil's' 2-3 zone, and a layup by Corey Barrett tied the game at 20 midway through the first half.
But the Huskies figured things out from there. UConn went on a 13-0 run, holding Central without a field goal over the next 8 minutes.
"I thought it ignited with our defense," said coach Kevin Ollie. "That's how we won a championship last year, with our defense, and I thought it stepped up big time."
UConn went into the break leading 35-23. A dunk and free throw by Boatright gave the Huskies a 30-point lead at 55-25, and UConn cruised from there, leading by as many as 36 points.
"You go 17 minutes and you get one field goal, you know you are going to be in trouble," said Central coach Howie Dickenman.
The Blue Devils have no one on their roster taller than 6-foot-9, and UConn had no problem when it went inside. The 7-foot Brimah and 6-9 Facey hit their first eight shots and finished a combined 11 of 12, almost exclusively on layups and dunks.
"I think I'm starting to get better with basketball IQ and how I see the game now," said Facey, who has played just five years of organized basketball.
The win puts UConn two games over .500 and gives the Huskies their first back-to-back victories since they opened the season 3-0.
CCSU: Howie Dickenman was an assistant for 14 seasons at UConn under Jim Calhoun, where he recruited Kevin Ollie to be the Huskies point guard. He has lost all three games his teams have played against the Huskies since he became head coach of the Blue Devils in 1996. CCSU falls to 0-13 all-time against UConn. The teams had not faced each other for 10 years.
UConn: The Huskies have won 68 of their last 69 games against schools from the state of Connecticut. UConn's winning streak against in-state schools ended on Dec. 5 with a 45-44 loss to Yale.
UConn fans booed Ollie at the end of the game after he ordered his team to hold the ball rather than to try and score another basket. Another point would have given the team 82 points, the mark needed for everyone in the crowd to win a free order of chicken wings. Ollie said he never been booed like that before. "Next time I'll recognize that," he said. "That was on me, I didn't know about the (wings)."
CCSU: The Blue Devils return home to face Hofstra on New Year's Eve.
UConn: The Huskies are back in Hartford on New Year's Eve to open play in the American Athletic Conference against Temple.
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