NEW YORK (Ticker) -- The way Ben Gordon is playing, Connecticut does not appear to be shorthanded.
Gordon turned in his second straight 29-point performance to again overcome the absence of Emeka Okafor as the ninth-ranked Huskies moved into the championship game of the Big East tournament with an 84-67 victory over Villanova.
Okafor was rested again due to a small stress fracture in his back and his absence gave Gordon another chance to shine. The explosive guard drained 10-of-15 shots and is 22 points shy of breaking former Georgetown star Allen Iverson's 1996 tournament record of 79 points in three games.
"I just want to win, it's not about the points," Gordon said. "Hopefully, if I do have another 29-point game tomorrow, it ends with a 'W.'"
Connecticut (26-6) advanced to its third straight championship and will face top-seeded Pittsburgh for the third straight year. The Huskies posted a double-overtime victory two years ago before the Panthers captured their first Big East title in 2003.
"I think it's a big rivalry between us two," Huskies guard Taliek Brown said. "I think our team, we really hate them. We just feel like this is the real championship."
Gordon started quietly, going without a basket for nearly eight minutes. But his 3-pointer triggered 10 straight points for the Huskies, who opened a 26-13 cushion with more than eight minutes to go in the first half.
Villanova (16-16) pulled within 48-43 on two free throws by Curtis Sumpter with 12:09 left. UConn freshman Josh Boone countered with a three-point play to start another 10-0 spurt that ended any hopes for the Wildcats.
Boone again did a convincing impersonation of Okafor with 11 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks. He blocked five shots in the first half, helping UConn limit Villanova to 28 percent (9-of-28) shooting.
"He was dominating in the middle of the game," Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said. "Quite frankly, it alleviated an awful lot of our problems."
Gordon was not the only perimeter player to shine for UConn as Rashad Anderson netted 19 points and Brown added 11 and 10 assists, becoming the Huskies' all-time assists leader. It added up to 53 percent (29-of-55) shooting for a Connecticut team that resembled a buzz saw.
"They got a great opportunity in these last couple days to show themselves," Calhoun said. "And obviously, they've shown themselves exceptionally well."
The only bad news for the Huskies was a sprained right ankle suffered by freshman Charlie Villanueva in the first half, an injury he aggravated in the second. X-rays were negative and he is listed as day-to-day.
Brown also shackled Wildcats guard Allan Ray, who had two points on 1-of-10 shooting. Ray was one of three players who fouled out for Villanova, which sprung upsets of Seton Hall and Providence to reach the semifinals and become eligible for the NIT.
"We beat two outstanding teams and I think tonight we just didn't have enough to beat a third outstanding team," Wildcats coach Jay Wright said. "They played like a hungry team, and to play without Emeka like that was very impressive."
The Huskies are seeking their sixth Big East crown, which would tie Georgetown's all-time record.