Hasheem Thabeet has been Connecticut's defensive stopper for two years. Now, he's ready to shoulder more of the load on the offensive end.
Thabeet had 23 points and a career-high 17 rebounds Friday night to lead No. 2 Connecticut to a season-opening 81-55 win over Western Carolina.
The 7-foot-3 junior from Tanzania, who towered 7 inches over any defender the Catamounts sent at him, also blocked five shots. He was 7-of-11 from the field, with most of his attempts from inside 5 feet.
``The way I'm getting better, it's going to be hard to stop somebody 7-3, 272 pounds in the blocks,'' he said. ``I've got an idea what to do with the basketball now.''
beat Toledo 80-58; No. 20 Davidson beat Guilford 107-83; No. 21 Wake Forest beat North Carolina Central 94-48; and No. 23 Villanova beat Albany, N.Y. 78-60.
Jerome Dyson also scored 23 points for UConn, and Jeff Adrien added 14 points and seven rebounds.
The Huskies extended their winning streak at Gampel Pavilion in November and December to 46 games, dating to the opening of the arena in 1990. UConn is 19-4 in season openers under coach Jim Calhoun.
Brandon Giles led Western Carolina with 16 points. Harouna Mutombo, nephew of NBA star Dikembe Mutombo, added 11 points.
UConn's A.J. Price was ejected after a flagrant foul with just over 7 minutes left when he punched Joey Parker in the stomach as the two were battling for position on the left side of the lane.
``That particular play was just frustration built up throughout the whole game, because of what was going on between both teams,'' Price said. ``We both got tangled up, and it wasn't just me who did anything and I got the flagrant because he got the worst of it.''
No. 5 Pittsburgh 86, Fairleigh Dickinson 63
At Pittsburgh, DeJuan Blair had 17 points and 13 rebounds and Pitt got a big lift from point guard Levance Fields' return from a broken foot.
consecutive season opener.
Fields missed a dozen games with a broken left foot last season, then fractured it again in August and needed a bone graft operation. He missed Pitt's two exhibition games, but had no visible problems while getting 15 points and eight assists.
Eric Moore scored 17 for Fairleigh Dickinson.
No. 7 Texas 68, Stetson 38
At Austin, Texas, A.J. Abrams scored 21 points and hit five 3-pointers for Texas.
The Longhorns' career leader in 3-pointers with 289, Abrams made four in the first half and had his 18th game with at least five 3-pointers.
Connor Atchley added 14 points for Texas and A.J. Smith scored 12 points for Stetson (0-1).
No. 11 Purdue 82, Detroit Mercy 50
At West Lafayette, Ind., E'Twaun Moore scored 18 points, JaJuan Johnson scored 17 points and Robbie Hummel added 14 points and nine rebounds for Purdue.
Thomas Kennedy led Mercy with 18 points and Eulis Stephens added 12.
No. 12 Oklahoma 83, American 54
At Norman, Okla., Blake Griffin had 24 points and a career-high 18 rebounds to help Oklahoma win its sixth straight season opener and 22nd in the last 24 overall.
Griffin went 9-of-11 from the field, including his first career 3-pointer.
Brian Gilmore led American with 16 points.
ey State 64
At Tempe, Ariz., James Harden had 24 points and 10 assists, and Arizona State won its opener for the first time in Herb Sendek's three seasons.
Shannon Behling scored 18 points for the Delta Devils.
No. 16 Marquette 95, Houston Baptist 64
At Milwaukee, Wesley Matthews scored a career-high 27 points and Marquette won easily in Buzz Williams' debut as coach.
Jerel McNeal had 20 points and Lazar Hayward added 19 points and 12 rebounds for Marquette.
Williams took over in April, shortly after Tom Crean became the coach at Indiana.
Gordon Watt led Houston Baptist with 17 points.
No. 19 Florida 80, Toledo 58
At Gainesville, Fla., Dan Werner scored 19 points for Florida, and Nick Calathes added 16 points and seven assists.
The Gators won their 18th consecutive season opener and improved to 51-6 under coach Billy Donovan in November.
Jonathan Amos led Toledo with 22 points, six rebounds and five assists.
No. 20 Davidson 107, Guilford 83
Stephen Curry scored 29 points and set career highs with 10 assists and nine steals to help Davidson win its 17th straight home opener.
Davidson led by 12 points at halftime, then went on a 23-5 burst in the third quarter.
Clay Henson scored 21 points for the Quakers.
olina Central 48
At Winston-Salem, N.C., freshman Al-Farouq Aminu had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead Wake Forest.
James Johnson added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Demon Deacons, who led by 31 points before the Eagles made their second field goal.
Jamar Briscoe scored 18 points for N.C. Central.
No. 23 Villanova 78, Albany 60
At Villanova, Pa., Scottie Reynolds scored all 13 of his points in the second half to lead Villanova to the season-opening win.
Corey Stokes and Dante Cunningham added 13 apiece for the Wildcats, who won their home opener for the 18th straight season.
Will Harris and Anthony Raffa scored 13 points apiece for Albany.

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