Connecticut began its quest to repeat as Big East Tournament champion by dispatching of No. 16 seed DePaul 81-67 in the event's opening game.
Jeremy Lamb scored 17 of his game-high 25 points in the first half, as the Huskies carried a 46-33 advantage into the break. That lead ballooned to as many as 22 before DePaul got hot from the outside and chipped away to make the final margin respectable.
The freshmen duo of Ryan Boatwright and Andre Drummond combined for 31 additional points for UConn, which shot 52.5 percent from the field and 8-of-13 (61.5 percent) from three. Cleveland Melvin and Moses Morgan led DePaul in scoring with 19 points apiece.
Connecticut, the defending national champion, moves on to the second round where it will face No. 8 seed West Virginia Wednesday at noon. The Huskies defeated WVU 64-57 back on Jan. 9 in Storrs. A second victory over the Mountaineers would leave UConn feeling far more comfortable about its status heading into Selection Sunday.
This was the second straight time UConn and DePaul squared off in the 9/16 game. A year ago, the Huskies prevailed 97-71 on their way to the Big East title.
For more on this game and Connecticut basketball, be sure to check out The UConn Blog.