Advice from his mother paid immediate dividends for UConn's A.J. Price.
Price scored 23 points to lead No. 4 Connecticut to a 76-61 victory over Seton Hall on Sunday, the Huskies fifth Big East win since losing their conference opener to Georgetown. Price had 14 points at the half, helping UConn to a 16 point lead.
"My mom told me to go out and have fun, so I was real loose today," Price said. "From the time I came in here for shootaround, I was just loose with everything in my approach, just doing what I know how to do...I came out today and got some easy baskets, some mid-range jump shots, and that got me going."
Hasheem Thabeet added 15 points, 17 rebounds and four blocked shots for UConn (16-1, 5-1 Big East). Jeff Adrien had 13 points and 12 rebounds, the senior's 40th career double-double.
Seton Hall's Jeremy Hazell scored 15 of his 20 in the second half. He was just 2-of-11 from the field in the first half.
"They shaded him and chased him around," said Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez. "They were pretty physical with him. He's made a name for himself. He got 28 against them last year. They certainly knew who he was."
Robert Mitchell added 19 points and nine rebounds for the Pirates.
UConn has now won 22 of its last 24 games against Seton Hall (9-8), which is now 0-5 in the Big East.
Connecticut opened up a 28-19 lead early behind the shooting of Jerome Dyson and Price, who combined for 15 of those points.
Seton Hall cut that lead to five before Stanley Robinson blocked a 3-point attempt by Hazell. That led to a 3-pointer by Price on the other end and a 10-point Husky lead at 33-23.
"That was a very big play, like a six-point swing," Price said. "That kind of shifted momentum more our way."
Connecticut closed the half on a 14-3 run, and led 42-26 at intermission.
Seton Hall scored the first three buckets of the second half, before another 3-pointer from Price ended the run.
Thabeet, UConn's 7-foot-3 center, took over from there, scoring 13 points in the second half. UConn led by as many as 22, before the Pirates made a final push, cutting the deficit to 70-57 on Hazell's layup with 3:36 left.
Price hit Thabeet on an alley-oop on UConn's next possession to end the threat.
"We have a lot of big games coming up," said Thabeet. "Today was just a day, you just want to put them away early, and don't have to fight at the end."
UConn had 20 assists on 31 baskets and shot 51 percent from the field, while holding the Pirates to just 40 percent. Seton Hall hit just seven of their 24 3-point attempts.
The Huskies were coming off a 3-0 road trip that included wins at West Virginia, Cincinnati and St. John's, and were playing at home for the first time since a Jan. 3 blowout win over Rutgers.
The competition now gets a bit tougher. More than half of the Huskies' remaining games will come against ranked opponents. UConn hosts No. 23 Villanova Wednesday and plays at No. 12 Notre Dame on Saturday.
Jeff Adrien said the Huskies will go into both games with a lot of confidence.
"It's an opportunity to get payback for Villanova. You know they beat us the last two years, and we're excited for it," he said.
"It's going to feel good to break (Notre Dame's) home winning streak," he added. "It's a tough place to play, but we can do it. We almost did it last year."