SYRACUSE, New York (Ticker) -- Charlie Villanueva used his inside strength to solve Connecticut's struggles at the Carrier Dome.
Villanueva scored 21 points and freshman Rudy Gay added 18 as No. 14 Connecticut captured its first victory in its last four trips here with a 74-66 triumph over seventh-ranked Syracuse in a Big East Conference battle.
Winless here since January of 2000, the Huskies (15-5, 7-3 Big East) went inside to wear down the Orange. Villanueva shot 9-of-14 from the field and pulled down 10 rebounds.
"For us, that is the best win we've had this season, far and away, especially considering it was on the road and we started two freshmen, two sophomores, and a junior," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said.
With Connecticut trailing, 61-56, and Syracuse's leading scorer and rebounder, Hakim Warrick, on the bench with four fouls, Villanueva engineered a 9-0 run with five points, including a layup that put UConn up, 65-61, with 4:28 remaining.
After the Orange rallied to tie it at 65-65, Villanueva put the Huskies ahead on a layup with 2:47 remaining, and Josh Boone added a follow shot off a missed jumper by Villanueva for a four-point lead with 77 seconds left.
"I think it was just an evenly matched game with two well-coached teams," said Syracuse guard Billy Edelin about the matchup between the last two national champions. "But when Hakim came back into the game, we started trying to throw the ball to him too much. It was predictable. It's something we'd like to get away from. I saw the same thing when Carmelo (Anthony) was here. He was such a force that we wanted him to do so much."
After sitting for nearly six minutes, Warrick returned to the game with 6:04 remaining and the game tied at 61-61, but the Orange committed three turnovers down the stretch trying to force the ball into him in the post.
"In the second half, I thought we tried to get the ball into (Warrick)," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "That's what we wanted to do, we just had two turnovers in the post and that was the ballgame."
Gay shot 6-of-13 from the field with two 3-pointers and Marcus Williams added nine points and six assists for Connecticut, which limited Syracuse to 1-of-9 shooting from 3-point range. The Huskies entered the game first in the nation in field goal percentage defense at 37 percent.
In the first half, the teams matched each other shot for shot until Villanueva began an 8-0 run with six straight points, including consecutive dunks for a 22-17 lead with 8:24 left. Huskies sharpshooter Rashad Anderson, who entered the game shooting 50 percent (16-of-32) from the arc in his previous five contests, was fouled making a jumper 15 seconds later, but missed the free throw for a 24-17 advantage.
But Syracuse (21-3, 8-2) took advantage of 11 first-half turnovers by UConn, going into halftime down just 37-36 behind 13 points by Warrick and eight by Terrence Roberts.
In the second half, the Orange forged a 53-50 lead with 12:36 left on an 11-1 run as Gerry McNamara and Josh Pace scored four points each. But Warrick picked up his third and fourth fouls over the next 55 seconds and was forced to sit.
Overall, Syracuse committed 24 fouls, including 15 in the second half. In contrast, Connecticut had 15 personal fouls whistled against them, including just six after halftime.
"I look up at the scoreboard and there's five players with 17 fouls. Four, four, four, four and one," said McNamara about the frequent fouls. "It's tough to play aggressive when it seems like everything's going one way. That's just how it seemed in the second half." Warrick scored 16 points and Pace added 14 for the Orange, who absorbed their first loss in 15 home games this season.