STORRS, Conn. — The people who have been around the Big East for decades and those who are fairly new to the conference agreed that No. 1 Connecticut's 80-76 victory over No. 9 Pittsburgh on Tuesday night was physical even for a league known for that style of play.
"I was tired with three minutes left. That's about as tough as it gets," said Husky guard Marcus Williams, who made five free throws in the last 30 seconds in Connecticut's eighth straight win. "That was a physical game. I made those free throws because there were a couple of timeouts there that made it easier. I'm tired."
There were bodies on the floor throughout the game, the defense was tenacious as both teams tried to go inside because no one was scoring from three-point range, and there was even a technical foul called on each coach for animated objections to non-calls.
"Two tough teams went at it and they just came out on top," Pittsburgh center Aaron Gray said. "They're not the No. 1 team in the country for nothing."
Connecticut Coach Jim Calhoun called the game "emotionally draining."
Rudy Gay had 22 points for the Huskies (19-1, 7-1), who improved to 6-0 this season against ranked teams and to 32-5 when playing as a top-ranked team.
Gray had 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Panthers (17-2, 6-2), who dropped to 0-13 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams.
Levance Fields' three-point basket pulled Pittsburgh to within 76-74 with 19 seconds left, but Williams made two sets of two free throws around two by Gray to close the scoring.
Connecticut was two for 13 on three-point attempts while Pittsburgh was two for 20.