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Hard times for Huskies without Coach Calhoun

HARTFORD — Suffering from the recent leave of absence undertaken by Coach Jim Calhoun, the UConn Huskies men’s basketball team had a sloppy afternoon before a sold-out crowd at the XL Center in Hartford Saturday, Feb. 18, losing 79-64 to 12th-ranked Marquette.The unranked Huskies have been without Calhoun since the beginning of February when the coach announced he was taking time off to address severe pain in his lower back. The team went into Saturday’s game having lost six of their previous eight games and looking quite unlike last year’s NCAA Championship winners.The Huskies struggled to keep up with the dominating Golden Eagles in the first half, lagging behind the team’s quick offense. By halftime, Marquette had pulled out to a 43-29 halftime lead built on turnovers and breakaways.The Huskies cut the lead to four points in the second half, but that was as close as they would get, as a technical foul on guard Ryan Boatright spoiled the run and Marquette took advantage of several more costly UConn turnovers.Marquette’s Jae Crowder had 29 points and 12 rebounds, and Darius Johnson-Odom had 24 points for the win. UConn’s Jeremy Lamb had 19 points.UConn got some of its spirit back Monday, Feb. 20, winning an away game in overtime against the Villanova Wildcats. Sophomore Shabazz Napier hit a 29-foot shot with 0.6 seconds left in overtime to win the game 73-70, and Lamb scored 32 points.The Huskies’ overall record stood at 17-10, and 7-8 in the Big East conference this week as they prepared to meet the Syracuse Orange Friday, Feb. 24, at 9 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion. The Huskies play Tuesday, Feb. 28, away at Providence and at home Saturday, March 3, against Pittsburgh before the 2012 Big East Tournament begins Tuesday, March 6, at Madison Square Garden in New York City.Coach Calhoun’s medical leave was scheduled to last through Monday’s game against Villanova. An announcement was expected this week regarding his condition and possible return.

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