UConn handles UCF 84-61

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 11, 2014
Freshman center Amida Brimah scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds, both career highs, as UConn recorded its first-ever American Athletic Conference victory with an 84-61 victory over Central Florida Saturday night. Shabazz Napier scored 14 points, and DeAndre Daniels (13) and Ryan Boatright (11) joined them in double figures as UConn (13-3, 1-2) won its second consecutive game. The Huskies shot 47 percent and outrebounded UCF 50-34 before 9,561 at Gampel Pavilion. Isaiah Sykes led UCF (9-5, 1-2) with 17 points but was held in check by the Huskies most of the game. Sykes entered the game averaging 15 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. ''He's a walking triple-double,'' UConn coach Kevin Ollie said before the game. Brimah made 8 of 10 shots from the field and was 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. He also blocked five shots. The Huskies blocked 14 shots as a team. Brimah scored six points, including a dunk off a Daniels assist, during a 10-0 run early in the game that gave UConn a 20-12 lead. The Knights used a zone defense to stifle the Huskies temporarily and pulled within 22-21 after an 8-0 run of their own. But Brimah's final basket of the first half, a put-back with 5:20 left, gave UConn a 28-22 lead and the Huskies closed out the first half with a 35-24 lead. UCF quickly cut UConn's lead to 36-32 early in the second half and the Knights closed within 45-39 on a 3-pointer by Matt Williams. But a driving layup by Boatright with 11:59 remaining got the Huskies back on track and two dunks by Brimah gave UConn a 67-51 lead with five minutes to play. The Huskies entered the game ranked last in the American in rebounding but held a 24-15 advantage on the boards in the first half against the conference's top-rebounding team. UCF entered the game averaging 40.9 rebounds a game, compared with UConn's 34.9. Daniels led the effort on the boards but was aided by Brimah, who came off the bench for four rebounds. Brimah was 5-for-5 from the floor in just eight minutes of play before halftime and led all scorers with 10 points. He also had three blocked shots. Brimah's previous high-scoring total was seven points against Yale on Nov. 11. The freshman center from Ghana has played six scoreless games this season, including three of four prior to Saturday. UConn, which won or shared 10 regular season championships as a member of the Big East Conference, had not started 0-2 in league play since the 1989-90 season. The Huskies fell out of the national polls for the first time this season after consecutive conference road losses at Houston and SMU, but bounced back with a 61-56 victory over Harvard in Storrs on Wednesday. UConn is now 3-1 all-time against UCF. The Knights won the previous meeting 68-63 in the 2011 Battle 4 Atlantis. UCF had won six of seven games before visiting Storrs. The Knights are now 1-3 away from home this season.
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