PHOENIX -- If Connecticut had what Huskies coach
Instead, the Boilermakers ran into 7-foot-3
Thabeet said his teammates encouraged him to be more assertive during halftime and he responded with 10 of his 15 points after the break.
"We've been on [Thabeet]," Calhoun said. "In the first two games of the tournament he didn't have to take over. Today, he was just special."
Thabeet, who added 15 rebounds, got help from unsung senior
"I've always believed in Craig," Calhoun said. "He has always been our [Jonathan] Papelbon, our closer. This year something has been missing at times, but when we have really needed him in the tournament, defensively and offensively, he has given it to us."
"The whole game I felt I was getting to the spots but wasn't able to finish," Price said. "I told myself to stay with it and I would finish the plays off and make some big baskets. Then I made two or three tough floaters in the lane. I was just staying with it and being persistent."
"We feared that Stanley would get into foul trouble [in the first half]," Calhoun said. "But we made sure to go to him in the second half. We thought he could be our ace card against Hummel."
It is never a good idea to play a basketball game in a football stadium because you can't help but have large empty sections. Still, there seemed more empty seats than normal. Perhaps the 4 p.m. start was to blame, and maybe there was close to the 20,101 fans stated in attendance figures, but if you looked down the long length of the court, the thin crowd looked like something from a Clippers game and not the Sweet 16.
Huskies fans can be encouraged by Thabeet's assertiveness and the emergence of Austrie. It is often an unsung player that makes the difference in March, and in Austrie and Robinson, Connecticut has two players who can be difference-makers during those stretches when Price and Thabeet aren't dominant.