HARTFORD, Conn. — Freshman Ryan Boatright scored 23 points and had six assists in his home debut and No. 8 Connecticut beat Arkansas 75-62 Saturday in the Big East-SEC challenge.
Boatright hit eight of his 12 shots and also had five rebounds for Connecticut, which didn’t score a field goal for the first five minutes of the game.
That was just after Boatright checked in and the Huskies went to a three-guard lineup that led them on a 14-2 run. The point guard sat out UConn’s first six games because of an NCAA suspension.
Jeremy Lamb added 14 points and Tyler Olander had 12 for UConn (7-1).
B.J. Young scored 28 points for Arkansas (5-2) and Devonta Abron had 16 rebounds for the Razorbacks, who outrebounded Connecticut 47-35.
UConn shot 57 percent from the floor and held Arkansas to 31 percent.
But the Huskies’ front line gave up 27 offensive rebounds, while getting just four of their own.
Arkansas’ highly touted defense started strong, forcing four turnovers on the Huskies first six possessions as the Razorbacks jumped out to an 8-1 lead. The Razorbacks came in forcing 19.5 turnovers per game, and forced 15 by the Huskies.
UConn responded to the run by putting in Boatright. He had two assists, a steal, and a layup on the Huskies first three baskets.
Boatright scored 14 points in his debut last week against Florida State, including the key free throws that sent that game into overtime.
The 14-2 UConn run gave the Huskies a 15-10 lead, their first of the game. It was 22-12 Huskies when Lamb hit a 3-pointer with just over nine minutes to play.
Connecticut led by 14 before Young scored every point during an 11-4 run by Arkansas to cut the lead to 37-30. It was 39-32 at the half.
Connecticut scored the first five points of the second half, before Lamb picked up his third foul less than a minute in.
But Boatright kept Arkansas at a distance. His 3-pointer midway through the second half gave UConn a 62-48 lead.
Boatright’s floater in the lane put the game out of reach at 73-59 with just over two minutes left.
The Huskies’ bench outscored their starters 39-36.
Connecticut won its 38th straight home game against a non-conference opponent. The Huskies last lost a home game against a team outside the Big East in January 2007, when Indiana won 77-73 in Hartford.
The Razorbacks came into the game on a three-game winning streak, but were playing their first game of the season outside the state of Arkansas.
Connecticut, which had not played since beating Florida State in overtime in the Bahamas on Nov. 26. The win came a day after Central Florida snapped a 16-game UConn winning streak that dated back to last season’s 11-0 postseason run to the national championship.
Connecticut is 3-0 against Arkansas, but the teams had not played since UConn’s 77-68 win in Maui in 2005.
Watch the game replay on ESPN3.com.