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Updated: Tuesday, January 14, 2003 11:55 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(6) Connecticut 83, Virginia Tech 65
VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES
Virginia Tech Hokies
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CONNECTICUT HUSKIES
Connecticut Huskies
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HARTFORD, Connecticut (Ticker) -- Emeka Okafor came alive in the second half to help No. 6 Connecticut end Virginia Tech's upset bid, 83-65, in a Big East Conference game.

Okafor scored 12 of his 19 points in the second half, including eight in a 24-4 run that catapulted the Huskies (11-1, 2-0 Big East West) to victory.

Okafor also added 12 rebounds and five blocked shots to move past Jake Voskuhl into second place on Connecticut's all-time blocks list with 197. Okafor has played 46 games in his career, while Voskuhl, currently in the NBA with the Phoenix Suns, played 138. Donyell Marshall, the Huskies' top all-time shot-blocker, swatted away 245 shots in 91 games.

"I guess I came out a little conservative in the first half because of what happened last time," said Okafor, who got into foul trouble in Saturday's victory over Miami. "I didn't like spending that much time on the bench. I think that even hurt my team. I have to go back to the drawing board and find out what exactly I'm going to do with myself. I just can't come out slow and try to save myself."

Freshman Rashad Anderson started the decisive spurt when he was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 13:15 left. Anderson hit all three of his free throws, then made a pair of layups to send Connecticut on its way.

Ben Gordon led the Huskies with 24 points and put an exclamation point on the victory with a thunderous one-handed dunk on a fast break with 3:27 left that came just after the decisive run and gave Connecticut a 75-57 lead.

"In the second half, I thought we really played great," Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said. "I really did. I don't care who we are playing, if we play like that for 40 minutes we're going to be a tough out."

The Hokies (6-8, 0-2) made their presence known early with an 11-0 burst to take a 20-10 lead. After Connecticut came back with 12 straight points of its own, Virginia Tech did not fade and held a 43-39 lead at halftime.

Terry Taylor scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half to lead Virginia Tech, and was key in holding Okafor down early. But Taylor shot just 1-of-6 in the second half as the Hokies faded.

"We have to continue to force through and get better," Hokies coach Ricky Stokes said. "I think we have learned a lot from our first two road games in the Big East, and we are looking forward to going home for our next three Big East games."

Virginia Tech is winless in five games against Connecticut since joining the Big East.

Freshman Hilton Armstrong made his first start for the Huskies and scored a season-high 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Armstrong earned the start in place of Mike Hayes, who did not score in nine minutes.

UConn held a 44-28 advantage in points in the paint and held a 43-29 edge on the glass. The Huskies shot 69 percent (20-of-29) in the second half.

"I was a little bit (nervous) when I was sitting down and they first called my name out," Armstrong said. "When I got out on the court I felt more comfortable."

"I thought that Hilton did a terrific job," Calhoun said. "He gave us a passer, he gave a shot blocker, he gave us some legitimate size. I just hope and believe he's only going to get better."

Bryant Matthews also scored 16 points for Virginia Tech, but its backcourt struggled. Brian Chase and Carlos Dixon combined to make 5-of-19 shots for 16 points.

The Hokies have lost 10 of their last 11 Big East road games.


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