CINCINNATI (AP) -To not only survive but to prosper in a grueling year of a Big East season, a team has to have options.
No. 5 Connecticut has more than most.
That was evident Saturday night when the Huskies used numerous combinations inside and out in an 81-72 victory at Cincinnati.
The contrast was particularly clear since the opponent was the Bearcats (10-6, 0-3), who lost projected starting point guard Cashmere Wright to a knee injury during preseason practice.
Now Deonta Vaughn, one of the conference's top players, finds himself not only running the point but also providing much of the Bearcats' punch from the perimeter.
That's certainly not the case with the Huskies.
``We have Kemba (Walker), Jeff Adrien and A.J. Price - three point guards on our team,'' Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. ``They're among our highest scorers, but they all can play point. That was eventually the difference in the game tonight. The fact that we were able to get 17 assisted baskets, got the ball moving at the right times, got the ball into the hands of the right people.''
, was right.
Four days after playing what he called the worst game of his college career, he hit 5 of 8 3-pointers and scored 22 points while the Huskies flexed their muscles down the stretch.
``After that performance, I wanted to come out and show I was able to do the things I know I was capable of doing,'' Price said of going 0-for-9 from the field and scoring one point in 22 minutes in a 61-55 victory at West Virginia. ``I came out tonight and once I started making shots early, it just made things that much easier for me.''
The Huskies (14-1, 3-1) improved to 7-0 on the road while shooting 58 percent from the field. Adrien added 13 points and 12 rebounds and Jerome Dyson had 12 points.
Lots of others contributed in big ways. Craig Austrie came off the bench for 11 points, 7-foot-3 Hasheem Thabeet had eight points, three rebounds and two blocks, and Stanley Robinson, starting his third game after missing the first eight while on a leave of absence, added defense, grit and six points.
Spreading the workload goes a long way, particularly away from home. Connecticut has won three in a row since sustaining its only loss, 74-63 at home to Georgetown, in the conference opener on Dec. 29.
The latest two wins were on the road, with one more to go (at St. John's on Thursday) before the Huskies get to play at home again.
n here,'' said Calhoun, in his 23rd year at UConn.
Despite contributions from so many, it was Price who always seemed to make the big play when most needed.
Calhoun wasn't a bit surprised.
``After the West Virginia game, he (Price) thanked Kemba for picking him up when he was playing so poorly,'' Calhoun said. ``We all want to win. The best way to pay him back was to step up tonight in a tough environment against a good team. He hit tough shot after tough shot and played great defense and assisted on buckets.''
Price hit 8 of 12 shots from the field and also had five assists, a steal and two rebounds.
The senior said long days at practice helped him forget about his last game.
``I worked my butt off for this to happen,'' he said in the hallway outside the locker room. ``Nothing's going to happen just because you want it to happen. Coach told me I had to continue working and everything would fall into place. That's what I tried to do and it carried over into the game.''
Vaughn scored 19 points, Mike Williams 14 and Yancy Gates 12 for Cincinnati, which has lost four in a row on the heels of a four-game winning streak. The Bearcats had been booed off the floor in an 87-79 home loss to Providence on Wednesday night, but they fought on relatively even terms with the Huskies.
things. I appreciate it all, but it's irrelevant to me.''
Clinging to a 61-56 advantage that they seemed to maintain for most of the night, the Huskies finally gained some breathing room on Price's perimeter jumper and, after a miss, Walker's end-to-end drive for a layup and a 65-56 lead with 6 1/2 minutes left.
Price then hit a fallaway 3 from the left corner for a 12-point lead.
``We never had control, but we were on top,'' Calhoun said. ``And then we grabbed a hold with about 6 minutes to go and we got ourselves a really, really well-earned victory.''
Cronin could only marvel at the Huskies' assets.
``Talent combined with experience equals winning,'' he said. ``A lot of talent and a world of experience, and you're going to win a lot. If they stay healthy, the sky's the limit for them.''

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