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Peterson provides spark as Providence upsets UConn

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Beating the top-ranked team in the country last week didn't give Connecticut much momentum to build on.

One game after upsetting Texas to reclaim a spot in the rankings, the Huskies fell to Providence 81-66 on Wednesday night when Jamine Peterson had 23 points and 14 rebounds.

Peterson scored eight of the Friars' 14 straight points as they completed their comeback from a 10-point, first-half deficit.

"We just took our foot off the gas. We thought that we had the game won already," said UConn forward Gavin Edwards, who scored 17 points. "Everybody was just resting on their laurels from the Texas game, and as a result, nobody really came out to play, and we got beat."

The second-half collapse was all-too familiar to Providence (12-8, 4-4 Big East), which led South Florida by 12 with 2:05 left on Saturday night before losing in overtime. But this time the Friars were on the other end, and the crowd at the Dunkin' Donuts Center celebrated by storming the court even as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

"I was pretty confident that we'd bounce back. I couldn't have dreamed that we'd bounce back like this," Providence coach Keno Davis said. "If we don't blow that lead, I think you can make a case that we don't win tonight. I think that will help us as we get into the Big East."

Kemba Walker also scored 17 points for the Huskies, adding eight rebounds and seven assists. UConn (13-7, 3-4) lost for the first time under substitute coach George Blaney, who took over Jan. 19 when Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun took a medical leave.

"He would have given them a jolt, I'll tell you that," Blaney said. "I would have liked to have had him there tonight, that's for sure."

Sharaud Curry scored 18, and Bilal Dixon had 11 points and 12 rebounds in Providence's biggest win since last year's defeat of then-No. 1 Pittsburgh.

Five of the Friars' next seven opponents are in the Top 10.

"We can beat anybody in the country," Davis said. "We have enough talent, but we have to play extremely hard. But we've got to learn in a hurry, because we're such a young team we've got to speed up the process."

UConn was ranked as high as 10th in The Associated Press Top 25 before three straight losses dropped it out of the polls. It was just one week, though, before the Huskies beat St. John's and then-No. 1 Texas to jump back into the rankings at No. 19.

Blaney told his players: "You did something historical on Saturday, and if you don't [play] with the right attitude, if you don't come playing 40 minutes, a team is going to be jacked up against you, the fans are going to be jacked up, and it's going to be a tough game. We knew that."

UConn led by 10 in the first half, but Providence came back to take a 36-35 lead at the break. The Huskies led 58-55 with 9:36 left before PC scored the next 14 points, 20 of the next 23 and 26 of 31 until Walker made a meaningless 3-pointer in the final minute.

This time, the Friars were able to finish it off.

"That game's done. People are going to forget about South Florida. Now they're going to be talking about UConn," Davis said. "And when UConn's done, they'll be talking about Cincinnati."