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Updated: Saturday, January 8, 2005 6:24 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(9) Connecticut 66, Georgetown 59

WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Despite another lackluster second half, defending national champion Connecticut avoided consecutive losses to open Big East Conference play for the 15th straight season.

Charlie Villanueva and Denham Brown each scored 19 points as No. 9 Connecticut bounced back from an upset in its league opener to defeat Georgetown, 66-59.

The Huskies lost to Boston College on Wednesday, blowing a seven-point halftime lead. The last time they opened their conference slate at 0-2 was in the 1989-90 season.

"This was a great win against a good Georgetown team," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. "After the BC loss, it was a good bounce-back for us."

Among his 12 first-half points, Villanueva hit a 3-pointer less than three minutes in to give Connecticut a 7-2 lead and trigger an 11-2 run.

"Villanueva was a killer," Calhoun said.

Brown, who established a season high, made two free throws with 2.6 seconds left to give Connecticut (9-2, 1-1) a 39-19 lead. Most of Brown's damage came in the second half, however, when he scored 13 points.

"I was brought to tears by Denham Brown's performance," Calhoun said. "He's been struggling lately and he got it turned around today."

Brown, who scored just three points against Boston College, drained a 3-point dagger to give the Huskies a commanding 59-47 lead with 2:52 left.

"I was getting down on myself lately but I kept working and got my confidence back," said Brown, who made all eight free throws to help the Huskies shoot 20-of-26 from the line. "This was a big win for me and for the team."

Villanueva grabbed 13 rebounds, including five offensive, as UConn dominated the glass, 47-32.

"Playing with Emeka (former teammate Emeka Okafor), he tought me to always be working for rebounds," Villanueva said. "If you get your rebounds, you'll get your points."

Villanueva scored Connecticut's first six points after intermission, but Georgetown (9-4, 1-1) used an 18-4 run on the strength of 4-of-4 3-pointers during that span to cut the deficit to 45-37 with 12:48 left.

The Hoyas got within six points on a 3-pointer by Ashanti Cook with 36 seconds left, but the Huskies answered with the next four points to seal the victory.

"We're still growing as a team," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "We played much better in the second half today and need to work on playing that way in both halves. I was proud of the way we fought back."

Freshman Jeff Green scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting for Georgetown, which has lost eight straight meetings and 15 of the last 17 with UConn. Cook, who scored a career-high 23 points in Wednesday's upset of No. 12 Pittsburgh, was scoreless in the first half and finished with nine points on 3-of-11 shooting.


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