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Updated: Saturday, December 21, 2002 4:39 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(8) Connecticut 117, Nc Asheville 67
NC ASHEVILLE BULLDOGS
NC Asheville Bulldogs
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CONNECTICUT HUSKIES
Connecticut Huskies
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HARTFORD, Connecticut (Ticker) -- Ben Gordon didn't need all of his gears to help Connecticut get past North Carolina-Asheville.

Gordon scored nine of his 29 points during a key run late in the first half as the eighth-ranked Huskies remained perfect this season with a 117-67 rout of their lightly regarded Big South Conference opponent.

After a sluggish start, Connecticut pulled away late in the first half, building a 47-27 cushion with 68 seconds remaining. Gordon made two layups, a jumper and 3-pointer during the burst, capping it with a shot from behind the arc.

A sophomore guard, Gordon was 12-of-18 from the field in 30 minutes. He also had seven rebounds and nine assists, running around the Bulldogs all day.

"He's not a good player, he's a great player," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. "When you see him in person, he has about five gears, from fast to lightning. And he's so strong up with the ball and he can see the floor. He was absolutely terrific."

Gordon had some help.

Emeka Okafor, the nation's leader in rebounds and blocked shots, had 19 points, 10 boards and four blocks as the Huskies (7-0) beat another badly overmatched opponent.

The Bulldogs (3-4) lost for the third time in as many meetings with a ranked foe this season. They are playing on back-to-back nights this weekend.

"They're a good team and they're playing a suicide schedule - tomorrow night, Holy Cross," Calhoun said. "But I think they caught us on a day in which we did what we can do really well."

Calhoun noted his team's ability to run, share the basketball and play pressure defense. The Huskies held a 31-7 advantage in fast-break points and a 26-8 bulge in assists while holding NC Asheville to 34 percent shooting (23-of-68).

"They're just too big and strong and good a basketball team," Bulldogs coach Eddie Biedenbach said. "They're definitely a top-10 team."

Freshman Denham Brown scored 15 points and Rashad Anderson added 13 off the bench for UConn, which shot 63 percent from the field (47-of-75), hitting nearly half of its 3-point attempts (10-of-22).

It was a good response by the Huskies, who had nearly two weeks off for semester exams. In their last game, they defeated Massachusetts, 59-48, after stumbling to a 30-9 halftime deficit.

"We came out, they had us up by 30-9, and our pride was tested, our willpower was tested, and we answered," Okafor said. "We passed it. We came back strong, we kept focused and we won."

UConn got off to another sluggish start in this one, leading just 27-25 with 6:28 left in the first half. But Okafor started the 20-2 run with a three-point play, making it 30-25.

"We were just getting hyped," Brown said. "From the jump, we were just trying to go at them, go down their throats on defense and on offense. We just have to play hard."

Fifteen Huskies played and each attempted a shot, with 14 making at least one field goal. UConn's bench scored 43 points.

"It was fun," Okafor said. "The best part was seeing the walk-ons get in and all the rest of the guys. I was just cheering them on. Everyone was having a good time out there. We were winning, we were playing together and just doing our thing."


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