Thursday, December 04, 2008

Rodney Earns Respect

Rodney Pierce and Hasheem Thabeet were the stars of the show as UConn finds itself in a 32-32 tie at halftime with upstart Buffalo.

Pierce has been amazing. He hit his first seven shots (six jumpers, one of them a 3-pointer), and banked in a runner with 4.5 seconds left to tie the score before the break. He's 8-for-10 from the floor with 17 points, and if the Huskies don't start guarding him better, he'll become just the latest opponent to post a career-high effort against UConn (his current career-best is 26).

Jerome Dyson started off guarding Pierce, to little effect -- Pierce scored the Bulls' irst eight points to start the game with an 8-2 run. Dyson passed the baton to Craig Austrie, who was better (even blocking a shot for Pierce's first miss of the night), but not quite good enough.

On the other side, Thabeet is a man among boys, and UConn is doing a better job of getting him the rock. He's 5-for-7 from the floor for 12 points, has racked up 11 boards and a pair of monster blocked shots. After dunking home his first bucket, Thabeet proved he can do more than just dunk, hitting a nice, left-handed hook shot. It was Thabeet's first non-dunk field goal in two-plus games.

Thabeet has scored a bunch of different ways, including a nice rebound putback and a terrific low-post sping move for a conventional 3-point play. His 17-footer in the first minute of play was a bit ill-advised, however.

Otherwise: Dyson seems to be feeling the effects of his two-hour flight to Buffalo this afternoon, shooting just 1-for-7. A.J. Price has just three points, though he had a nice sequence midway through the half, hitting a 3-pointer, then firing a nifty pass to Jeff Adrien for a dunk -- only to be pulled from the game shortly thereafter.

The Huskies had five turnovers in the game's first eight minutes, but only one since then. Kemba Walker has been a non-entity (no shots, one assist). Gavin Edwards, suffering from the flu, is giving it that old college try (four points). Austrie, who joined Dyson on today's flight on a prop plane out of Windham Airport, also has four points. Adrien has seven and five boards.

The game is not quite a sellout, with a smattering of empty seats in the upper regions of the 6,100-seat Alumni Arena.

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