Reaching a milestone was easier than Richard Hamilton had imagined.
Hamilton scored 29 points and passed the 1,000-point mark in his career Monday night as No. 7 Connecticut defeated Big East rival Villanova 80-65.
Hamilton, the Big East's second-leading scorer at 21.4 a game, now has 1,009 points. He joined Ray Allen of the Milwaukee Bucks as the only two players in Connecticut history to surpass 1,000 as a sophomore.
"When I first came to UConn, I thought it was hard to score 20 points," Hamilton said. "Everything has come so fast. In high school it took me three years to score a 1,000 points."
After struggling to a 36-34 halftime lead, Hamilton and the Huskies (20-3, 10-2) turned up the pressure and ran away from the Wildcats (9-11, 6-6).
Hamilton scored 14 straight points for Connecticut during an 18-2 run that made it 67-43.
"I told the kids at halftime that we were being outworked and outhustled," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. "We couldn't allow that. I told them that we might lose the game, but it wouldn't be because we got outworked."
Khalid El-Amin had 17 points and Kevin Freeman had 11 for the Huskies.
"We played our game in the second half," said El-Amin. "In the second half we played Connecticut basketball, up-and-down, up-and-down."
Hamilton credited the freshman point guard with Connecticut's second-half surge.
"Khalid did a great job of getting everybody involved in the second half," Hamilton said. "He set the tempo and when he plays like that nobody is going to beat us."
Howard Brown led Villanova with 17 points.
Five points by Hamilton keyed the Huskies to an early 11-3 lead, but Villanova came back with a 9-0 run to take its first lead of the night at 12-11 on a 3-pointer by Zeffy Penn.
A basket by Hamilton and two free throws by Freeman gave the Huskies their biggest lead of the half at 30-21 with six minutes left.
El-Amin scored seven points in a 13-5 run at the start of the second half. Three minutes later, Connecticut led 57-41 when Hamilton converted two free throws on a flagrant foul and then hit a 3-pointer on the inbounds play.
"In the first half we slowed the pace and were successful. Then, in the second half, they got a lot of steals and the flood gates opened," Villanova coach Steve Lappas said. "The game got crazy. That's how they wanted it."
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