HARTFORD, Connecticut (Ticker) -- Connecticut continued its trend of winning at the Hartford Civic Center.
Emeka Okafor led a balanced attack with 15 points and 12 rebounds as the 19th-ranked Huskies remained unbeaten in eight contests at their Hartford home with a 75-61 victory over No. 18 Syracuse in a Big East Conference matchup.
"Everybody did their part," said Okafor, who recorded his 13th double-double of the season. "Everybody is focusing on what they have to do - us just meshing as a team and us playing great defense."
Rashad Anderson added 13 points off the bench, Ben Gordon had 11 and Denham Brown 10 for Connecticut (15-5, 6-3 Big East West).
Despite Gordon scoring nearly 10 points below his team-leading average, UConn posted its first win over a top-25 team this season.
"It shows we're a deep team," he said. "I think there could have been a lot more games like this where I only scored 10 or 12 and we still come out on top with the victory. We just have those types of players."
The Huskies were playing their first home game since coach Jim Calhoun underwent prostate cancer surgery. Calhoun told the team he had cancer last Monday and had successful surgery Thursday. He was released from the hospital Sunday but will be away from the team for about three to four weeks.
Connecticut improved to 2-1 under under interim coach George Blaney.
"I couldn't be more pleased with the toughness, the quickness and the execution of Jim Calhoun's basketball team," Blaney said. "I always think seasons have defining moments, and there's usually three or four defining moments, and I'm hoping this is one of them."
Blaney spoke to Calhoun after the game.
"He was really excited," Blaney said. "He's feeling good. He's on the treadmill, by the way, if you can believe that."
The Huskies also were playing their second straight game without starting point guard Taliek Brown, who injured his left index finger in a loss at Virginia Tech on Wednesday and will be out approximately four weeks.
Tony Robertson started for the second time in Brown's absence and scored eight points. Freshman Hilton Armstrong and Markus White combined for 15 points and 15 rebounds.
"It's definitely a big win," Robertson said. "If we can beat teams of this caliber - Syracuse has been playing really well - it will be a confidence builder for the rest of the games we have coming up."
Freshman Carmelo Anthony matched his career high with 29 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, but Syracuse (16-4, 7-3) had its three-game winning streak snapped.
"We could get nothing going on offense except for Carmelo, and you can't live with one guy," coach Jim Boeheim said. "We just couldn't get anyone else going. The way we played on offense, we were fortunate to be in the game."
The Orangemen, who fell to 3-3 on the road this season and 8-9 all-time at the Hartford Civic Center, entered the game third in the league in scoring (81.1) and second in field goal percentage (48.8) but had trouble getting their offense going in the second half.
"We just didn't make shots. ... You've got to make some," Boeheim said. "If we had made some shots, the game goes down to the wire. We might lose, but they are a good team and I think they played well. They are a pretty good defensive team, but we got our opportunities."
Syracuse trailed by just 30-27 at halftime but missed its first 15 field goal attempts of the second half.
The Orangemen scored their first 17 points of the period on free throws. Their first field goal came with 11:47 left as Okafor accidentally put the ball in when he tried to grab a rebound. The two points were given to Hakim Warrick.
Warrick scored Syracuse's first actual field goal with a dunk with 11:06 left, getting his team within 50-44. Kueth Duany added a layup a minute later to cut the Orangemen's deficit to four.
However, the Huskies went on a 13-5 run, going ahead 63-51 on a pair of free throws by Armstrong with 5:09 remaining.
A tip-in by Anthony with 3:25 left pulled Syracuse within 65-57, but White hit the second of two free throws and a follow shot to push Connecticut's advantage back to double figures. The Huskies' lead never dipped below 10 points thereafter.
"We played great defense in the second half and I think that's what pulled the game out for us," Gordon said. "We came out in the first half with great defense and in the second half almost doubled it and that helped us win the game.
"When we play good defense, it helps us rebound, starts our fast break, and it gives us more confidence at the other end. And it takes away the other team's confidence in turn."
Anthony scored the first basket of the game with a layup before Connecticut went on a 16-2 run, capped by consecutive 3-pointers from Anderson, to take a 12-point lead with 14:09 to go in the half.
Another 3-pointer by Gordon on a fast break gave the Huskies a 24-14 advantage. But the Orangemen later used a 12-3 spurt to take just their second lead 1:44 before halftime.
Armstrong's dunk put Connecticut on top, 28-27, and Anderson slammed one down to conclude a fast break and send the Huskies into intermission with a three-point lead.
Connecticut outscored Syracuse on the break 19-4 and shot 48 percent (25-of-52).
Warrick and Duany finished with 12 points apiece for the Orangemen.