By Dom Amore, The Hartford Courant
HARTFORD – Ryan Boatright scored 17 points, DeAndre Daniels and Omar Calhoun each added 16 as the UConn men’s basketball team stayed unbeaten with a breezy, 95-68 victory over Maine before 9,681 at the XL Center on Friday night.
The game went as expected for the 12th-ranked Huskies (9-0), who trailed briefly in the opening minutes, but broke it open with a 16-2 run midway through the first half. They led 54-31 at the break, and continued to extend the lead until it reached 39 points.
Shabazz Napier, who played 22 minutes, had seven points, eight assists, including the 500th of his career, and five rebounds, and became the fourth player in UConn men’s basketball history to get 1,000 points and 500 assists, joining Taliek Brown, Doron Sheffer and Tate George.
Somewhat significant in the easy win for UConn: Boatright and Calhoun, who had been in shooting/scoring slumps, broke out. Calhoun was 4 for 9 on his three-point shots, as the Huskies were again very effective from t he perimeter.
Maine (1-7) had a brief flurry early in the game, scoring eight points in a row to take an 8-5 lead. But the Huskies weren’t of a mind to let the Black Bears hang around. They tied it on DeAndre Daniels’ three pointer, and with Niels Giffey showing the hot shooting touch off the bench, they blew it open.
Omar Calhoun and Lasan Kromah hit three-pointers as the Huskies opened the lead to 19-12, and that ignited a 16-2 run, Giffey’s tip-in making it 29-14 with 8:31 to go in the half. Coach Kevin Ollie had said, after UConn struggled to put Loyola away, that once up 15, he wanted to go up 25, not back down to five. The Huskies followed his admonition, with the help of a technical foul against Maine’s Xavier Pollard late in the half. After Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright hit four free throws, UConn led by 27 points.
UConn finished the half with a 54-31 lead, and Daniels, Giffey, Calhoun and Boatright all in double figures already.
Pollard scored 20 points for the Black Bears.