Blair was a beast — and he knew it. That big smile spread across his face after the game. Before the game, he probably had heard how Thabeet would dominate him. But Blair finished with 22 points and 23 rebounds. He was 10-for-17 from the field. He had his 16th double-double of the season before halftime.
At one point in the first half, Thabeet and Blair battled for a rebound and Thabeet got his arm caught under Blair. The XL Center crowd went silent when Blair flipped Thabeet over his back. Thabeet ended up on his back, holding his left arm. He went to the bench and returned three minutes later. There was relief in Huskyville.
But this never was Thabeet’s game.
“I played excellent and my team played excellent,” Blair said. “Coming in here, into a hostile environment and beating the No. 1 team in the country, that’s big. That says a lot of things about this team.
“I came out here with the mindset of being the underdog and I just went at him.”
“Blair is a good player,” he said. “I played a lot of big guys who tried to come at me. Today I didn’t have a good game and he took advantage of that.”
All is not lost for the Huskies. They could still win the Big East. They could still be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They could still win the national championship. And even though Calhoun didn’t want to admit it, the Huskies showed some toughness of their own by taking the lead when Thabeet was on the bench with four fouls.
UConn will be without starting guard Jerome Dyson the rest of the season. Dyson, perhaps the toughest guy on the team, had successful surgery Monday on his left knee. The fact that doctors could repair his meniscus means Dyson won’t be back this season.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Calhoun knows UConn plays Pitt again in the final game of the regular season, March 7 at Pitt. There’s a good chance the two will get together again at Madison Square Garden in the Big East tournament. They have staged some classics there in New York City and a third game would be a treat.
Once the Huskies had lost, Calhoun knew his job was to be heard. He had to jockey for position before the two teams meet again. In fact, it might be Calhoun who picks up the phone and calls the league office. The officiating might have been even with 19 fouls on UConn and 18 on Pitt. But Calhoun wants the whistles to serve his purpose, not that of Dixon and the Panthers.
If you didn’t get the message, you simply weren’t listening.
Duke coach said that after winning his second gold medal in men's basketball would be his Team USA finale. That may not be the case anymore.
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