PITTSBURGH (Ticker) - Jaron Brown and Pittsburgh earned their revenge as well as control of the Big East Conference race.
Brown scored 17 points as the fourth-ranked Panthers never trailed and extended the nation's longest home winning streak to 40 games with a 75-68 victory over No. 5 Connecticut.
Pittsburgh (23-2, 9-2 Big East) had its 18-game winning streak to start the season snapped with a difficult 68-65 loss at Connecticut on January 19. The Panthers also were coming off their second loss, a double-overtime defeat at Seton Hall on Monday.
A return to the cozy Petersen Events Center helped get Pittsburgh back on track as it opened the game on a 9-2 run and never looked back. The Panthers were the aggressors throughout, earning numerous trips to the foul line and draining 20-of-29 in the second half.
"We beat an excellent team, that is very well-coached," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. "Our seniors led us through once again."
The Panthers made 7-of-8 from the line in a decisive 11-0 tear that opened up a 58-43 advantage with 7:43 left. Brown had two free throws and a layup in the spurt and freshman Chris Taft capped it with a dunk.
Connecticut (19-5, 7-3) dropped its second straight and fell into third place, one-half game behind Providence (8-3). Huskies star Emeka Okafor was in foul trouble most of the game and managed 16 points against an array of Panthers big men.
"We tried to watch every move that he made," Panthers forward Mark McCarroll said. "We knew how to play against him since this was the second time that we played Connecticut."
Okafor drew his fourth foul in the midst of Pitt's decisive tear. He made 7-of-13 shots and was limited to six rebounds, matching a season low. The Panthers employed the 6-10 Taft, 6-10 McCarroll, and even seldom-used freshman 7-footer Aaron Gray against Okafor.
Carl Krauser finished with 13 points and four steals and helped control fellow New York native and UConn counterpart Taliek Brown, limiting the Huskies' vaunted fast break. Both teams finished with only eight points on the break.
"We focused on playing tough transition defense and even at times that we got back and played them well, they still pushed the ball down and made some tough shots," Dixon said.
Brown and McCarroll helped provide Pitt with some interior scoring to offset UConn's 40 points in the paint. Brown scored 13 second-half points and McCarroll finished in double figures for the fifth time this season with 15 on 5-of-7 shooting.
McCarroll provided the early spark with nine points in a 12-5 spurt that gave Pitt its first double-digit lead at 21-11 nearly midway through the first half. UConn never got closer than four points the rest of the way.
"No matter how good we played defense, Pittsburgh still executed offensively," Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said. "This is because Pittsburgh has great basketball IQ and believes in the system that Jamie Dixon has brought to the team."
UConn guard Ben Gordon led all scorers with 15 of his 23 points after halftime, but was just 3-of-9 from the arc. The Huskies' guards - Gordon, Taliek Brown, Denham Brown and Rashad Anderson - combined to make 15-of-38 shots.