Not very many teams have the inside depth to compete with the Huskies in the paint, but UMass stayed even with UConn on the boards, had a significant 42-24 edge in points in the point ... and delivered the defending national champs their first loss of the season Dec. 8.
Rashaun Freeman's fast break lay-up with 4.3 seconds remaining gave the Minutemen a 61-59 victory, dropping the visiting Huskies to 4-1.
Each team had 39 rebounds.
On Dec. 4, Indiana tried to negate UConn's strength in the paint by playing four guards the entire game, spreading things out on offense and controlling the pace. It didn't lead to victory -- though Indiana did lead by 13 with 13:05 to play in the second half -- but it negated the UConn frontcourt depth as the Huskies had to adjust.
Rudy Gay also played 23 strong minutes, and showed the ability to play both inside and outside that makes him arguably the best freshman in college basketball. It was his first time playing power forward in college.
The Huskies had won 88 games in a row against non-Big East teams from the New England region until they dropped a 61-59 decision at UMass on Dec. 9.
The big men rebounded -- literally and figuratively -- from a poor performance against Indiana when the Huskies pounded Northeastern 97-60. The Huskies won the battle of the boards 74-39.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "They had four guards in there which means we couldn't put our big man in there and use our big men to our advantage. Their guards were quick, it was almost like playing against five guards. It was an ugly game but we came out with a win." -- Freshman Antonio Kellogg, on the victory over Indiana on Dec. 4.
UPCOMING GAMES: vs. Rice, Sunday Dec. 19
KEYS: The Huskies enter their exam break playing fairly well, and really don't face another big challenge before conference play begins, although the Owls are an experienced team that is expected to contend for the WAC title. Mostly, these next two weeks will be all about Jim Calhoun tweaking the rotation, adjusting on-court lineups as needed, and getting over the Dec. 9 loss to UMass.
ROSTER REPORT: Josh Boone has recorded three double-doubles so far this season.
Denham Brown recovered from the ankle injury that briefly sidelined him in early December. He played 30 minutes against Northeastern and scored 15 points. He played 36 minutes against UMass, scoring 11 points.