Huskies beat AIC in Kevin Ollie's exhibition debut

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 01, 2012
Connecticut opened the Kevin Ollie era with former coach Jim Calhoun watching from a seat on the baseline. Calhoun, who retired in September, slipped into Gampel Pavilion just before the tip of UConn's exhibition game with American International College on Thursday night, chatted with referee John Cahill and then took a seat on press row along the baseline His successor walked on the court a few minutes later to a loud ovation from the students and a less-than full arena. Freshman Omar Calhoun scored 24 points and Ryan Boatright added 14 to lead UConn to a 78-63 win. But it was a slow start. UConn fell behind early and didn't lead until the second half. Ricky Hudson had 18 points for AIC. Ollie called his first timeout after Division II AIC, Jim Calhoun's alma mater, took a 10-2 lead, part of a 10-0 run. He handled those differently from his predecessor, pulling the team onto the court, where he and the starters sat on stools going over things. There was no screaming. Jim Calhoun spent much of the game resting his elbow on the press table with his chin in his hand or chatting with Warde Manuel, the school's athletic director. The Huskies never led in the first half and trailed by as many as 10 points. They had 10 first-half turnovers, but pulled within 29-28 on a 3-pointer by Shabazz Napier just before halftime. They tied the game on a 3 by Boatright and took their first lead at 35-33 on two free throws by Tyler Olander a minute later. That was part of a 16-0 run that gave the Huskies control of the game. Boatright and Olander are among the five members of the team who had significant playing time last season. Five underclassmen left the team in the offseason. The Huskies, who finished last season a disappointing 20-14 a year after winning the program's third national title, are picked to finish ninth in the Big East this season. They are academically ineligible for the Big East and NCAA tournaments. This is the first season that someone other than Jim Calhoun has been the head coach since Dom Perno coached his final game in 1986. UConn opens the regular season on Nov. 9 in the Armed Forces Classic at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
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