Kemba Walker leads UConn to victory over Stony Brook

STORRS, Conn. -- A new-look Connecticut team won its season opener in classic Jim Calhoun style -- with rebounding and defense.

Kemba Walker scored 18 points and Alex Oriakhi added 11 to go with a career-high 18 boards as Connecticut beat Stony Brook 79-52 Friday, holding the Seawolves to just five second-half field goals.

"Coach is the kind of coach where if you don't play defense, you can't play for him," Walker said. "Guys were like, 'My man is not scoring and I'm not coming out of this game.'"

The Huskies received 12 points from Shabazz Napier and 11 from Jeremy Lamb, two of the five Husky freshmen who saw action.

UConn held Stony Brook to 27 percent shooting and dominated the boards, outrebounding the Seawolves 59-33. Stony Brook was playing without Tommy Brenton, the America East's leading rebounder, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during a pick-up game in September.

"We killed them on the boards and we're just going to build off this," said Oriakhi.

A 12-0 run early in the second half gave the Huskies a 51-33 lead and put the game out of reach.

When Jamal Coombs-McDaniel followed a miss by Lamb with 12:09 left, the Huskies were up by 21 at 58-37. A layup by Tyler Olander with 4:28 left stretched the lead to 30 at 75-45.

"You looked up and we held them to 15 percent [shooting] in the half, we did our job defensively much better than maybe our team last year could have," Calhoun said.

Bryan Dougher had 19 points for Stony Brook, which hit just 17 of its 63 shots.

"We kind of got caught in a pick-up game. That's not how we play, and against Connecticut, they're always going to win a pick-up game," said Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell, who played guard and coached under Calhoun at UConn.

Connecticut started three of its six freshmen. Niels Giffey was the only one of the five who played not to score. Olander, who played his high school basketball in Storrs, had the game's first points and finished with four. Roscoe Smith added six points and seven rebounds.

"Our freshman class is going to do well no matter what" Napier said. "We have the confidence to go out there and put up shots and play defense. So as long as we do what we've gotta do and go out there and make coach happy, our confidence level will rise throughout the year."

The Huskies held Stony Brook scoreless for the game's first four minutes, but trailed 7-6 a minute later when Al Rapier hit a driving layup.

Stony Brook committed 13 first-half fouls and six minutes into the game, the Huskies already were in the bonus.

Lamb's steal and dunk with 7½ minutes to play in the half gave UConn a 9-point lead at 24-15.

But Walker made just one of his first eight shots and Stony Brook's Bryan Dougher kept the Seawolves in the game with his 3-point shooting. He had 13 of his points before halftime, when he was 3 of 5 from behind the arc. He missed all five of his 3-pointers in the second half.

Oriakhi, who had 11 first-half rebounds, tipped in a Donnell Beverly jumper at the halftime buzzer to give UConn a 39-31 lead.

"That first half was a little rough," Oriakhi said. "But it's all about getting better and learning,"

Calhoun is now 14-0 against former assistant coaches, including 4-0 against Pikiell.

Stony Brook, last season's America East regular season champions, also played without point guard Marcus Rouse, who is expected to be out at least a month with a knee injury of his own. The Seawolves made the NIT last year.

Connecticut's new assistant coach Kevin Ollie wasn't on the bench Friday. He was injured Wednesday when an exercise band snapped back and hit him in the right eye, and may miss the Huskies' upcoming trip to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational.