STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Shabazz Napier and Alex Oriakhi each put up double-doubles and Connecticut, playing its fourth straight game without ailing coach Jim Calhoun, beat DePaul 80-54 on Wednesday night.
Napier had 14 points and 11 assists and Oriakhi scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Huskies (16-9, 6-7 Big East), who snapped a two game losing streak. Jeremy Lamb led the team with 18 points and Andre Drummond had 15 points and nine rebounds.
Jeremiah Kelly had 16 points and Cleveland Melvin scored 11 to lead DePaul (11-14, 2-11), which has lost five in a row.
UConn improves to 2-2 since Calhoun took an indefinite medical leave of absence suffering from spinal stenosis.
The Huskies had lost six of their last seven games and won for just the fourth time in 2012, breaking the 70-point barrier for the first time since New Year’s Eve.
Connecticut never trailed in this one.
The Huskies scored the game’s first eight points, forcing Oliver Purnell to take a timeout just over 3 minutes into the first half. A 10-0 run, highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers from DeAndre Daniels, gave the Huskies a 22-8 lead and forced another DePaul timeout.
The Huskies shot just 36 percent from the floor (14 for 39) in the first half, but led 34-24 at halftime by holding DePaul to just 11 baskets and outrebounding the Blue Devils 28-17.
Connecticut dominated the boards, outrebounding DePaul 50-27, including 20-7 on the offensive end.
UConn opened the second half on a 15-4 run and led 49-29 after a pair of dunks by Drummond, and a fast-break layup from Napier.
DePaul was able to cut the lead to 14, but couldn’t get any closer.
The Huskies have won seven of their last eight meetings between the two schools, including the last six.
DePaul has lost 10 of its last 11, and has just two conference wins. Melvin, who had originally committed to UConn before changing his mind in 2010, had been averaging over 18 points a game. He hit just five of his 14 shots against the Huskies.
UConn was coming off road losses to Louisville and Syracuse. The Huskies, who had been averaging just over 60 points a game in their last 11, improved to 4-8 in 2012.
Calhoun missed his fourth game on Wednesday as a result of spinal stenosis, and also will miss Saturday’s game against Marquette and Monday’s game against Villanova.
“I am happy that we seem to have located the problem and I am currently moving forward with treatment,” Calhoun said in a statement. “We have to give that treatment time to see whether or not it is effective.
The coach, who has been experiencing back pain since last summer, took an indefinite leave of absence on Feb. 3.
“I’m hoping by the middle of next week, we will have a much clearer picture of where we are and when I can look forward to getting back to doing what I do,” Calhoun said.
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spine, normally associated with aging and sometimes with arthritis. If physical therapy and medicines aren’t effective, he may have to consider surgery.
The Huskies also placed two more names on the “Huskies of Honor” wall at Gampel Pavilion on Wednesday. Worthington “Worthy” Patterson hit the game-winning shot against Holy Cross that sent UConn into the 1954 NCAA tournament. He was the first UConn player to head to the NBA, playing with the St. Louis Hawks in 1957-58.
Bill Corley, who died in 1999, averaged almost 17 points and 14 rebounds a game. He set the school’s single-game scoring record of 51 points against New Hampshire in January, 1968.
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