Dec. 23, 2005: Rashad Anderson Scores Career-High 33
Rashad Anderson's demeanor reveals nearly as much as a box score, and never has a day allowed for Anderson to revel in his own accomplishment and contentment as did Friday.
UConn headed into a brief Christmas break with a 129-61 dismantling of Morehead State on Friday before an announced crowd of 10,167 at Gampel Pavilion. There appeared to be about a thousand empty seats.
Anderson often keeps track of every point and every three-pointer as he goes, but not Friday. He had to look at a box score to fully realize this was the best performance of his career. He knew only that he had never felt better.
``I just felt like every time I shot it, it was going to go in,'' he said.
Anderson's 33 points are the most by a UConn non-starter since those statistics were first compiled in 1986-87. It is the fourth-highest UConn total at Gampel, and the most at Gampel since Ben Gordon dropped 37 on Nevada in 2003. Ray Allen holds the Gampel record with 39 against Rutgers in 1996.
Anderson played 22 minutes (11 each half), scoring 16 points in the first and 17 in the second. His performance was nearly enough to bury Morehead State (1-8). The only Morehead player who didn't appear intimidated was Shaun Williams, who scored 25 on 11 of 27 shooting.
Anderson, never reluctant, is allowed and willing to shoot from anywhere. Coach Jim Calhoun referred to him as the Huskies' only true ``killer with the basketball.''
``There is a lot to be said about a hungry, scoring basketball player,'' Calhoun said. ``And the great thing over his four-year run here is he's done it against the best. Whether he does it against Morehead State, Duke or Alabama, it really doesn't matter.''
Having noted Anderson's stellar performances in the 2004 NCAA Tournament, Calhoun paused.
``He got 33 points in 22 minutes,'' Calhoun said. ``Not many guys can do that.''
Rudy Gay finished with 18 points, eight assists, six blocks, five rebounds and four steals. Ed Nelson made 6 of 8 shots for 17 points. Marcus Johnson, starting in place of Denham Brown (knee) for the second game in a row, had 13 points. Jeff Adrien had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
UConn (9-0) was a point short of tying the team record for points, 130 against Tennessee Tech in 1993. The 129 is a Gampel record.
After a sloppy practice Thursday, Calhoun worried that players had turned their thoughts to returning home for Christmas. Many did leave Gampel shortly after the game -- Anderson and suspended guard Marcus Williams were the only players made available to the media -- but the Huskies took care of business first.
UConn shot 59.2 percent and outrebounded Morehead State, 46-33. The Huskies had 28 assists, forced 24 turnovers and had 15 blocks.
UConn went on an early 23-0 run. The Huskies led 52-12 after Gay's steal and 360-degree dunk, and 67-30 at halftime. At one point, referee Bill Bush approached Calhoun and said, ``You guys are really good.''
``When we play offensively like that, we're awfully good,'' Calhoun said after the game. ``I don't like scores like that, but I can't ask the kids not to play, either.''
Anderson has been savoring every moment on the court this season. He nearly died last year due to complications from a skin abscess in his thigh and has been unable to shake some lingering effects. He entered this season unsure of his ability and his role.
But Anderson quickly began draining shots. He has made 50 of 85 overall (58.8 percent) and 25 of 42 three-pointers (59.5 percent) this season. His scoring average jumped from 12.4 points a game to 14.7 Friday.
He said he knew it would be a good day as soon as he bit into his morning omelet -- mushroom, tomato and onion.
Calhoun addressed more serious topics.
``I want him fully convinced that we have something on our bench that no one else in the country has,'' Calhoun said. ``For him to fight his way back, the reason I think you see him smiling is, a) 33 points, but 1a) clearly he feels like he can do that every night.''
Anderson attended Michael Jordan's Flight School in California this offseason and came away with a valuable lesson. At one point, Anderson said, Jordan approached him and said, ``You're going through the motions.''
Anderson nearly missed a dunk Friday, but it wasn't for lack of effort. Late in the game, he hit a three-pointer, then another. Two possessions later, he went up for a two-handed slam but, clearly fatigued, he nearly came up short. He softly placed the ball in the basket.
Those were his final points.
``To go from what I've been through the last eight or nine months, it's really a blessing to be here and do some of the things I'm doing,'' Anderson said. ``Something like that, you never know if you're going to get back.''