NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- After facing a stiff challenge from Vanderbilt, Connecticut might not want to go on the road again.
In the only road game they have scheduled in the first two months of the season, the 12th-ranked Huskies edged Vanderbilt, 76-70, behind a career-high 25 points from Emeka Okafor.
Okafor shot 11-of-15 from the field and led Connecticut (3-0) with 11 rebounds. He also had three of the Huskies' four blocked shots.
"Okafor is a great player," said Vanderbilt forward Brian Thornton, who scored 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting. "He is a big-time shot blocker. ... He did a good job of blocking some shots and getting the ball strong tonight."
Connecticut led by as many as 11 points early in the second half, but Vanderbilt (3-1) went on a 13-3 run over a four-minute stretch to close to within 51-50 with 11:54.
Vanderbilt took its first lead at 54-53 on Mario Moore's layup with 10 minutes left but could not build on the momentum and keep the lead. The Commodores made just two field goals in the next nine minutes as the Huskies went on a 19-8 run and built a 72-62 lead.
"Performance-wise, we could have played better, but we played tough," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. "I think we played tough against a very good Vanderbilt team."
The Commodores were hampered by poor 3-point shooting, going 2-of-15 from beyond the arc. In its first three games, Vanderbilt converted 3-pointers at a 42 percent clip.
Vanderbilt got as close as 74-70, but Connecticut sealed the game at the free-throw line as Taliek Brown and Okafor each made 1-of-2 foul shots in the final 20 seconds.
Tony Robertson had 14 points for the Huskies, who got only four from leading scorer Ben Gordon. All of Gordon's points came at the end of UConn's decisive run.
"If you told me that we would have held Gordon to four points, I would have thought we would have a real good chance to win the game," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "Robertson hurt us in the second half, but I am not surprised by that. We just didn't play well enough to beat a really good team. I am disappointed for our players because of that."
Matt Freije led the Commodores with 18 points and nine rebounds. Corey Smith scored 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting.