Hasheem Thabeet scored 21 points on 9-for-9 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead No. 2 Connecticut to an 83-58 victory over Division II American International in an exhibition game Wednesday night.
The 7-foot-3 Thabeet, the reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Year, had six blocked shots against the undersized Yellow Jackets.
Although the Huskies return four starters from last season's team that went 24-9 and reached the NCAA tournament, they needed a boost from freshman point guard Kemba Walker to break away from AIC. The McDonald's All-America came off the bench in the first half to ignite UConn's running game and finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Gavin Edwards added 15 points for the Huskies, while Jeff Adrien had 13 and Craig Austrie 11.
Isiah Wallace led AIC with 16 points.
UConn had trouble finding Thabeet early against AIC's zone defense, but took control of the game midway through the first half with an 11-2 run that made it 25-12. Pushed into high gear by the speed of Walker and the dominance of Thabeet, the Huskies went into halftime with a 40-20 lead.
UConn finished with a 44-25 rebound advantage and blocked 11 shots while holding the Yellow Jackets to 34.6 percent shooting.
UConn will play its final exhibition against UMass-Lowell on Sunday before opening the season on Nov. 14 against Western Carolina.