Connecticut Slips Past Cincinnati, 84-83

Jan. 23, 2008

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CINCINNATI - Deonta Vaughn scored 34 points, but couldn't produce a final two as Cincinnati fell to Connecticut 84-83 in a BIG EAST Conference nail biter on Wednesday night. 

Jerome Dyson scored 20 points and blocked a shot in the closing seconds, completing Connecticut's rally from a 12-point deficit.

Cincinnati's Marcus Sikes missed at the buzzer, closing out the victory for Connecticut. UConn improved to 3-2 on the road in league play, one win more than last season.

Cincinnati (9-10, 4-3) got 34 points from Vaughn , but couldn't add to its recent streak of home-court brilliance. The Bearcats had won their last three at home, including upsets of nationally ranked Villanova and Pittsburgh.

This one slipped away in the closing minutes.

UConn overcame a 12-point deficit in the last 5:52, tying it at 80 on Craig Austrie's pair of free throws with 1:30 to go.

There were three lead changes the rest of the way, with the advantage swinging back and forth on free throws. A.J. Price made both of his with 9.8 seconds to go, putting the Huskies ahead 84-83.

Dyson then blocked a shot by Vaughn, who got the ball back and passed to Sikes for the final, off-the-rim shot. Dyson was the catalyst for the comeback, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers over a zone defense to get it started.

Seven-foot-3 center Hasheem Thabeet scored 22 for Connecticut, which went 32-of-37 on free throws. The Huskies also were amazing at the line in an 89-73 win over then-No. 13 Marquette on Sunday, going 33-of-39.

This one was full of wild swings.

Cincinnati has become competitive by tightening its halfcourt defense. When Price, the Huskies' point guard and the Big East's assists leader, went to the bench with his second foul at 8:04 in the first half, the Bearcats extended the pressure full-court and took charge.

Alvin Mitchell stripped Jeff Adrien and drove for a dunk off full-court pressure, then hit a 3-pointer set up by John Williamson's steal moments later. The freshman's two baskets completed a 12-point run that put Cincinnati ahead 31-21.

Connecticut figured out how to attack the Bearcats late in the half. Austrie, handling the ball in Price's absence, started driving to the basket and drawing fouls. He went 8-of-8 from the line during an 11-3 run that cut the lead to one point.

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin drew his first technical foul of the season during that spurt, setting up two of Austrie's free throws.

Thabeet's three-point play off a putback gave him 20 and put UConn ahead 49-46 early in the second half, setting a back-and-forth pace. There were two ties and four lead changes before Vaughn appeared to put the Bearcats in control.

Vaughn made four free throws -- two of them off a technical on Huskies coach Jim Calhoun -- and back-to-back 3s during a 12-2 spurt that made it 74-62 with 5:52 to go. UConn forced a pair of quick turnovers that led to layups, and Dyson's back-to-back 3-pointers cut it to 76-74.