MAUI, Hawaii – Arkansas trailed the entire game but made two big runs at No. 3 Connecticut in Monday’s opening round of the Maui Invitational before the Huskieshit enough free throws down the stretch for a 77-68 victory.
Connecticut took its largest lead at 55-38 with 11:06 remaining on a dunk by Rudy Gay, but Arkansas scored seven straight and closed within 10 on a three-pointer by Ronnie Brewer. After four free throws gave the Huskies a 12-point margin, the Razorbacks scored nine straight to get within three.
Charles Thomas made two free throws and Dontell Jefferson made a dunk. Eric Ferguson, seeing his first action since the Red-White Game on Oct. 29, hit a jumper after getting an offensive rebound and made the free throw after being fouled to get the Hogs within 59-54. An offensive rebound by Thomas led to a layup by Steven Hill as Arkansas closed within 59-56 with 5:38 remaining.
Gay made two free throws but Jefferson answered with a jumper to keep UA within three. A Brewer jumper kept Arkansas within 64-60, but UConn went on a 7-2 run with four points from Gay to give the Huskies a 72-62 advantage with 1:32 left.
A Jonathon Modica layup cut the deficit to 72-68 with 30 seconds remaining, but Connecticut, which made 21-of-25 free throws for the game, made five-of-six the rest of the way.
Connecticut scored 10 of the game’s first 12 points, led 26-13 at the 7:29 mark of the first half and 30-18 at the 4:32 mark before Arkansas made its first rally.
A Jefferson jumper and a layup by Brewer after a steal cut the lead to 30-22. Jefferson made two free throws and a Darian Townes jumper got the Hogs within 30-26 at the 2:38 mark before UConn settled for a 34-28 halftime lead.
Gay made 11-of-19 shots and was five-of-seven at the line for a game-high 28 points. Denham Brown had 21 points and Jeff Adrien 11. UA limited Josh Boone to four points and seven rebounds.
Brewer paced Arkansas with 25 points. He made eight-of-17 shots and had a game-high six steals.
Modica finished with 13 points on six-of-12 shooting, and Jefferson and Hill had eight points each. Ferguson finished with six points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Connecticut shot 57.7 percent from the floor (15-26) and 84 percent at the line while UA shot 42.9 percent overall (25-57) and 78.9 percent at the line (15-19). UConn had a 37-25 rebounding advantage and turned the ball over 23 times while Arkansas had 20 turnovers.
Arkansas faces Kansas Tuesday at 3 p.m. The Jayhawks fell to No. 10 Arizona, 61-49. Arizona shot just 28 percent, but Kansas shot 34 percent and turned the ball over 27 times. Sasha Kaun had 12 points, and Brandon Rush 11 points and seven rebounds for the Jayhawks.
Download: uconn box.pdf