Huskies put bite on Dores, 76-70

"Sure we're upset, we thought we could win, we expected to win", Coach Stallings told the media after watching the Connecticut Huskies beat the Commodores in Memorial Gymnasium in front of a crowd of 12,490. The game had been promoted by the Vanderbilt marketing team as "Memorial Magic" night. Unfortunately the Magic would not make an appearance.

It was a good game in many ways for Vanderbilt, but there is still a way to go if this team wants to play with the very best. The Huskies pushed the tempo most of the night; although midway through the second half, Vanderbilt rallied from 11 down to take a 1-point lead twice. However, Connecticut big man Emeka Okafor was just too much. He scored a game high 25 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, blocked three shots, and cause many other shots to be changed. He is the real deal and makes this UConn team a Top 10 team when he plays.

Matt Freije had a great game as well and carried the Dores on several trips down the floor. Matt ended the night with 18 points, and 9 rebounds in 36 minutes of work. Brian Thornton also had a solid game with 13 points and 5 rebounds. However, Vanderbilt simply could not overcome UConn's speed and some very questionable calls by the officiating crew during the last 9 minutes of the game.

The team showed grit, and refused to fold every time it seemed that UConn would put a run together. The one flaw seen tonight was a lack of outside shooting. Even Matt Freije said in his post game interview that he had several looks that were open from behind the arch and simply didn't make the shots. Overall Vandy shot only 13.3% from behind the arch and didn't hit their first 3 until 4 minutes into the second half.

Jason Holwerda played well defensively against UConn's leading scorer Ben Gordon, but he still looked very tentative shooting and that clearly cost him playing time towards the end of the game. Mario Moore also showed why fans should be excited about this team. On two consecutive series he stole the ball, making a lay-up to put VU up by one and then stealing it again and missing the lay-up on what many partisan fans thought was a foul.

Overall, despite the loss, the Commodores played well. The team thought that the game was theirs to win, however, whether by luck or design, UConn seemed to get many of the favorable bounces and breaks throughout the course of the evening. There is still room for improvement from the Dores and they will get better. Free throw shooting was greatly improved, as Coach Stallings pointed out during his post game interview, with Vandy hitting 84.2% of their shots from the charity stripe. Vanderbilt still hasn't faced a road test yet, but this group is very good defensively and that keeps them in the game.

Vanderbilt drops to 3-1 with the loss. The Commodores next host East Tennessee State on Wednesday. Connecticut improved to 3-0 and next faces Sacred Heart on Tuesday. Top Stories