Originally created 01/12/04

No. 1 Connecticut tops Oklahoma



STORRS, Conn. -- Emeka Okafor fell one blocked shot short of a triple-double and No. 1 Connecticut put on one of the most impressive defensive displays of the season, knocking No. 6 Oklahoma from the ranks of the unbeaten, 86-59 Sunday.

Okafor, the leading vote-getter on the AP's preseason All-America team, had 21 points, 10 rebounds and nine blocked shots for the Huskies (13-1). He had a triple-double earlier this season against Army with 18 points, 15 rebounds and 10 blocked shots.

With the 6-foot-10 Okafor anchoring things in the middle, Connecticut contested every pass and forced the Sooners (10-1) into quick shots time after time in winning their 10th straight game.

Oklahoma came into the game shooting 43.7 percent from the field with its worst outing 41.1 percent in a win at Michigan State. The Sooners' second real road game of the season had numbers that looked more like middle infielders' batting averages.

Oklahoma finished 20-for-73 from the field (27.4 percent). The Sooners were 8-for-35 (22.9 percent) in the first half and struggled to match that as Connecticut pulled away to lead by as many 40 points.

The Sooners were able to handle Connecticut's reserves, closing the game with a 14-2 run.

Denham Brown had 14 points for the Huskies, while Rashad Anderson had 13 and Ben Gordon and Charlie Villaneuva each had 11.

Connecticut shot 52.3 percent for the game (34-for-65) and finished with a 50-37 rebound advantage.

Freshman Drew Lavender had 22 points and seven assists for the Sooners, while Jason Detrick had 16 points.

The win improved Connecticut to 6-1 against Top Ten teams in Gampel Pavilion and made Jim Calhoun 1-4 against Oklahoma with two losses each at Northeastern and Connecticut.

Oklahoma had had success against top-ranked teams, winning five of its last seven meetings with a No. 1.

Connecticut's most impressive defensive stance came in the first half when the Huskies held Oklahoma scoreless for 7:46 in taking a 28-10 lead. The Sooners missed 12 shots in that span, making them 5-for-28 at the time, 3-for-23 from inside the 3-point line.

The sellout crowd of 10,167 was enjoying every second of the defensive performance with the loudest cheers coming when Okafor blocked a shot that led to his easy layup that made it 80-42.

It was Oklahoma's worst loss since being beaten 72-44 at Oklahoma State on Feb. 14, 2001.