PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (Ticker) -- Connecticut's 1-2 punch of Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon woke up in time to avoid a third straight loss.
Okafor scored 21 points and Gordon chipped in with 20 as the 17th-ranked Huskies cruised in the second half for an 84-68 Big East Conference victory over Providence.
Connecticut (14-5, 5-3 Big East East) won for the first time in two games under interim coach George Blaney, who is filling in while Jim Calhoun recovers from prostate surgery. Calhoun was undoubtedly pleased with what he saw on television as the Huskies took over just past the midway point of the first half and never let up.
Gordon and Okafor were the catalysts after each came off sub-par outings. Gordon made 3-of-11 shots for 13 points and Okafor managed only 12 in Wednesday's 95-74 loss at Virginia Tech in Blaney's debut.
A 3-pointer by Gordon, who nailed six in the game, gave Connecticut the lead for good at 18-17 with just over nine minutes left before halftime. The Huskies closed the half on a 7-1 run for a 41-31 edge at intermission.
Tony Robertson, a Rhode Island native, scored five points, Okafor had a tip-in and Gordon drained a 3-pointer in a 10-2 spurt that gave the Huskies a 60-42 advantage with just over 14 minutes left. Robertson was the third UConn player in double figures with 16 points.
The Huskies also played without starting point guard Taliek Brown, who missed his first game with a broken left index finger that will sideline him for approximately four weeks. Robertson got the start and turned in one of his better efforts
UConn held a 36-12 edge in points in the paint, including a 14-0 advantage in the first half. The Huskies limited the Friars to 20 percent (7-of-35) shooting in the first 20 minutes.
Ryan Gomes and Maris Laksa each scored 16 points to lead Providence (10-10, 3-6), which fell for the fifth time in six games. That duo combined for only 12 points in the first half.
With Brown sidelined, Gordon picked up the primary ballhandling responsibilities and handed out seven assists. He made 6-of-8 3-point attempts, missed all eight shots from inside the arc and grabbed six rebounds.
Okafor and freshman Denham Brown each grabbed nine rebounds as UConn held a 44-32 advantage on the glass. Okafor was too much of a factor inside as he made 10-of-15 shots and took advantage of Providence's slender center Marcus Douthit, who gave away 20 pounds to the Huskies pivot.
Douthit was the only other Friar in double figures with 10 points. Freshman Donnie McGrath handed out eight assists, but was 1-of-6 from the floor for six points.
The Friars held a significant advantage at the foul line, outscoring the Huskies 23-7.