BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- Vermont had momentum on its side and part of the crowd. But Connecticut had Rashad Anderson.
Anderson made his first six 3-point attempts in the first half as the second-seeded Huskies recovered from a hot start by the 15th-seeded Catamounts for a 70-53 victory in the first round of the Phoenix Region.
Vermont (22-9) scored the game's first seven points and wowed the crowd at HSBC Arena with some early fearless play. Although Connecticut recovered, the Catamounts did not quit and T.J. Sorrentine's 3-pointer forged a 24-24 tie with 8:29 to go before halftime, sending the fans to their feet.
Anderson responded with a 3-pointer on the Huskies' next possession that triggered a 12-0 burst. The sharp-shooting guard nailed another during the spurt, which point guard Taliek Brown capped with a nifty fast-break layup for a 36-24 advantage with 2:01 left.
"I got in a rhythm and the guys got me the ball, and when my feet are set everyone knows the ball is going in," Anderson said. "I just couldn't miss."
UConn star center Emeka Okafor posted his 21st double-double of the season and helped contain Vermont star Taylor Coppenrath, who entered off a 43-point performance in Saturday's America East championship game. The 6-9 Coppenrath missed 14-of-17 shots and finished with 12 points.
"I felt I was rushing my shot and that had to do with him," Coppenrath said. "I was short on my shots and didn't hit my flow."
The Huskies (28-6) will meet DePaul or Dayton in the second round.
Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun, a long-time friend of Vermont coach Tom Brennan, was impressed with the Catamounts' fast start.
"They came out and played like Tom's personality," Calhoun said. "They didn't seem to care about a lot of things other than having fun and competing and making my life as miserable as possible with all of the 3-point shots."
Anderson finished with 22 points and Okafor added 15 and 14 rebounds for Connecticut, which has won nine of 10. Brown added 14 points and seven assists, spearheading an attack that resulted in 50 percent (26-of-52) shooting.
But the Huskies rely on their defense, which again was stellar. They sealed off the paint, where they held a 36-12 edge in points, and limited the Catamounts to 32 percent (19-of-60) shooting.
"I'm proud of my kids," Calhoun said. "I thought we were functional."
Ben Gordon, the Big East tournament MVP, added 14 points and eight assists for UConn. Gordon missed all four 3-point attempts, but Anderson's outside firepower was all the Huskies needed.
Sorrentine scored 19 points to lead Vermont, which fell to 8-45 all-time against its former Yankee Conference rival.