STORRS, Connecticut (Ticker) -- After a slow start, top-ranked Connecticut kept a series of impressive streaks alive.
Emeka Okafor scored 21 points as the Huskies posted a 70-60 victory over Yale in the first round of the Preseason NIT.
The Huskies struggled in the first half, shooting just 38 percent, as Yale took a 31-28 lead after 20 minutes. But after a speech from coach Jim Calhoun they opened the second half with a 15-4 run and later used a 20-6 burst to put away the contest.
"We discussed it a little at halftime. It was a one-way discussion about what we were going to do," Calhoun said. "We were going to get into some people's face and not allow them to run dribble picks. The whole concept of the second half was to make them not make plays."
The win was Calhoun's 400th at the school and Connecticut's 83rd straight victory against non-conference New England foes, which dates to Calhoun's first season in 1986.
The Huskies also won their 18th straight home opener and 12th in a row over Yale.
Okafor, who was voted the preseason Big East Player of the Year, had nine points in the opening half, but the Huskies had difficulties running their offense and appeared sloppy at times.
"They came out and they were outworking us," Huskies guard Ben Gordon said. "They got a lot of loose balls, they were executing out offense and they just came out a little bit more ready than we did. It took us a while to get back into it."
But Connecticut made 10 of their first 14 shots in the second half and shot 58 percent over the final 20 minutes. It didn't take the lead for good until freshman Josh Boone's dunk made it 36-35 with 17:13 remaining. The Huskies then scored seven straight points as Okafor used his 6-10 frame for a three-point play and a dunk.
"We just came out with the attitude that we need to take over," said Okafor, who also collected 13 rebounds and four blocks. "We need to earn our ticket to New York. We didn't want to start the season off with a loss."
Making its first appearance at Gampel Pavilion since 1993, Yale committed just three turnovers in the first half. But it couldn't handle the Huskies' tough pressure defense and had six in the opening minutes of the second half and lost its 12th straight season opener.
"I thought we played really hard and I thought we had a pretty good game plan going," Yale coach James Jones said. "The kids executed pretty well. At the start of the second half, a couple of things got away from us."
The Huskies will play Nevada in the second round on Wednesday.