STORRS, Conn. -- These weren't the Wildcats Connecticut (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) was expected to struggle against.
A week after beating Michigan State and routing Kentucky in the Maui Invitational, UConn just got by New Hampshire 62-55 on Tuesday night behind 30 points from Kemba Walker.
"We had Kemba offensively, and you had very little else," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. "It's the first time all year that it was not fun coaching a team that was lackluster."
New Hampshire (4-2) outrebounded UConn 39-38 and had 18 offensive boards.
The Huskies trailed the Wildcats 24-23 at halftime, and didn't take the lead for good until 6 minutes into the second half, in what was a close game throughout.
UConn went on a late 9-2 run to expand a 49-48 lead to 58-50.
Walker said he expects UConn's five freshmen to learn a lesson from this close call.
"We've got to bring it every night," he said. "That's something that I think they will take out of this. And there are some shots that they've got to take."
Myrick Ferg had 19 points and eight rebounds to lead New Hampshire while James Valladares added 12 points.
The Wildcats took a 14-6 lead, thanks to some poor shot selection by the Huskies, who hit just three of their first 11 attempts from the field.
UConn began turning up the defensive pressure. The Huskies had eight of their 13 blocked shots with 7 minutes left in the first half, but still trailed 16-14.
New Hampshire was able to stay in front by outrebounding the Huskies 25-19 in the first half, grabbing nine offensive boards.
"We go after the basketball," New Hampshire coach Bill Herrion said. "It's a real emphasis of our program, to play hard and get on the glass."
Valladares hit five of his six first-half shots, including a 3-pointer that gave New Hampshire a 24-21 lead.
But Walker's jump shot at the halftime buzzer gave him 15 points and pulled UConn within a point.
The Huskies took their first lead on a layup by Walker 12 seconds into the second half, but didn't lead for good until Napier hit a spinning layup and a foul shot with 14:08 to go to make it 35-34, part of a 12-2 UConn run.
New Hampshire did not go away. Trailing 49-44, Myrick hit the first of two free throws, and Tyrone Conloy hit a 3-pointer after the Wildcats rebounded the second free throw, and another missed shot.
"We didn't play the way we played in Maui," Nappier said. "We just showed how immature we are."
Walker, who leads the nation in scoring, is averaging 30 points per game, and needs two more to reach 1,000 for his career.
The Huskies came into the season picked by the Big East coaches to finish 10th in the conference.
They opened some eyes when they beat Wichita State, then-No. 2 Michigan State and then-No. 8 Kentucky in Hawaii.
Since the poll expanded to 25 teams in 1989, the only more impressive entrance was Kansas' jump to No. 4 after beating No. 2 LSU, No. 1 UNLV and No. 25 St. John's on the way to winning the 1989 Preseason NIT.
"Maybe we were a little big-headed," said Alex Oriakhi, who had seven points and 10 rebounds. "Hopefully, this game brings us back down to reality to show us we're not that good and we still have a lot to work on."
UConn hasn't lost a game in Storrs before January in 97 games, since falling 91-85 to Holy Cross in December 1973.
With the win, Connecticut improved to 113-4 against non-conference opponents from New England in the Calhoun era.
Connecticut assistant coach Kevin Ollie made his bench debut for the Huskies. He had been sidelined since suffering an eye injury on Nov. 10, two days before the Huskies' opener, when a workout band snapped back into his face.
- Jim Burr
- Evon Burroughs
- Ray Perone