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 The rugged Big East clipped Connecticut right from the gate, but the resilient Huskies have shown over the past few weeks that they still may be the class of the conference.
A.J. Price scored 23 points and No. 4 UConn opened a big early lead before coasting to a 76-61 victory over Seton Hall on Sunday, the Huskies' fifth straight win since losing their conference opener to Georgetown.
Hasheem Thabeet added 15 points, 17 rebounds and four blocked shots for UConn (16-1, 5-1). Jeff Adrien had 13 points and 12 rebounds, the senior's 40th career double-double.
``We have a lot of big games coming up,'' said the 7-foot-3 Thabeet. ``Today was just a day, you just want to put them away early, and don't have to fight at the end.''
After No. 1 Pittsburgh was upended on Saturday, only Marquette and Louisville are still unbeaten in a conference that features eight teams ranked in the Top 25. UConn, Syracuse and Pitt each have one loss in the league.
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At Hartford, Conn., Seton Hall was within five midway through the first half when Stanley Robinson blocked a 3-point attempt by Jeremy Hazell and Price hit a 3-pointer at the other end, giving Connecticut a 33-23 lead. The Huskies went on to close the half with a 14-3 run.
``That was a very big play, like a six-point swing,'' Price said. ``That kind of shifted momentum more our way.''
Hazell finished with 20 points for the Pirates (9-8, 0-5), though he was just 2-of-11 from the field in the first half. Robert Mitchell added 19 points and nine rebounds.
UConn had 20 assists on 31 baskets and shot 51 percent from the field, while holding the Pirates to just 40 percent. Seton Hall hit just seven of its 24 3-point attempts.
The Huskies were coming off a road trip that included wins at West Virginia, Cincinnati and St. John's, and were playing at home for the first time since a Jan. 3 blowout of Rutgers.
The competition now gets a bit tougher. More than half of the Huskies' remaining games will come against ranked opponents, including a grudge match against No. 23 Villanova on Wednesday and a game against No. 12 Notre Dame on Saturday.
Adrien said the Huskies will go into both with a lot of confidence.
``It's an opportunity to get payback for Villanova,'' he said. ``You know they beat us the last two years, and we're excited for it.''
No. 15 Xavier 73, La Salle 53
At Cincinnati, B.J. Raymond scored 16 points and the Musketeers relied on their offensive balance to remain unbeaten atop the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Xavier (15-2, 4-0) has won six in a row since a home loss to Butler on Dec. 23, with its freshmen blending in better as the season goes along.
Yves Mekongo Mbala and Rodney Green scored 15 each for the Explorers (9-7, 1-2), who were coming off a 68-61 win over Charlotte that moved them three games over .500 for the first time in two years.
Northwestern 74, No. 18 Minnesota 65
At Evanston, Ill., Craig Moore hit six 3-pointers and finished with 22 points to lead the Wildcats to their first win over a ranked opponent in nearly three years.
The Wildcats (9-6, 1-4 Big Ten) had not beaten a Top 25 team since a three-point victory over then-No. 18 Iowa on Feb. 8, 2006. They had dropped 26 of their previous 27 conference games.
Lawrence Westbrook scored 18 for Minnesota (16-2, 4-2), which couldn't recover from Northwestern's 16-0 run early in the second half.
No. 19 Purdue 75, Iowa 53
At West Lafayette, Ind., E'Twaun Moore scored 13 points to help the Boilermakers win their third straight after starting 0-2 in the Big Ten.
Keaton Grant scored 12 points, Nemanja Calasan had 10 and Robbie Hummel added nine points, eight rebounds and two blocks for Purdue (14-4, 3-2), which sank seven 3s in the second half alone.
David Palmer led Iowa (11-7, 1-4) with 19 points, and Matt Gatens added 11.
No. 23 Villanova 76, St. John's 57
At Villanova, Pa., Dante Cunningham scored 17 points and Dwayne Anderson added a season-high 14 to help the Wildcats win their 24th straight at home.
Antonio Pena added 12 points for Villanova (14-3, 2-2 Big East), which has won six of its past seven games against St. John's.
D.J. Kennedy had 18 points and Quincy Roberts 14 for the Red Storm (10-7, 1-4).

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