HARTFORD, Conn. -- There was a time -- back in the day when Geno Auriemma shared a one-room office with his staff in the Storrs Field House -- that the goal was to have a better winning percentage than Boston College coach Margo Plotzke.
The goal for the University of Connecticut Hall of Fame women's basketball coach never became to be No. 1 on the all-time winning percentage list. But thanks to the second-ranked Huskies' 96-45 American Athletic Conference victory over Southern Methodist before a crowd of 9,972 at the XL Center Saturday, Auriemma is in a league of his own.
With a 30-year record of 888-134 and winning percentage of .86889, Auriemma passes former Louisiana Tech Hall of Fame coach Leon Barmore, who finished his career with a 576-87 mark and a winning percentage of .86878.
"He's deserving," UConn All-American Breanna Stewart said. "He's one of the best, if not the best, women's basketball coach that has ever been. Obviously his reputation speaks for itself.
"What makes him so good is the relationships that he has with his players. He makes you realize that he's trying to get the best out of you. That's what he cares about when your four years are done here -- if you got better and you reached the goals that you wanted to reach while you here."
Auriemma has led the Huskies to a NCAA-record nine national championships, 15 Final Four appearances, and 26 consecutive NCAA tournament bids. They've also won 20 league regular season titles and 19 conference tournament crowns. UConn had one winning season before his arrival.
Sixteen of his players have been named WBCA All-Americans and Stewart is his eighth and most recent national Player of the Year.
"His coaching style doesn't change," Stewart said. "The way he coaches people doesn't change. Our relationship has gotten better since I've been here and that makes it easier because I know he wants what is best for me."
Auriemma and Stewart don't always agree, and when that happens?
"He's been involved in basketball for a long time, a lot longer than I have, and I feel I've been involved with basketball for a long time," Stewart said. "Knowing he's been in so many situations before, he knows what's best. Even though I think that I think I'm right, I'll change my mind because he knows what's best. He knows what's right and what's wrong."
UConn (9-1 overall, 1-0 AAC) pushed its winning streak to eight as it began a stretch of three games in five days, which continues here Monday when No. 10 Duke visits for a nationally televised non-league affair.
"When people start to talk about these things, you realize how long you've been doing it and how many games have gone into my career up to this point," Auriemma said. "And how many games we've been able to win is a direct reflection of the players that have played here and how fortunate I've been.
"But if we lose Monday night and I'm right back to No. 2."
Moriah Jefferson led the Huskies with a career high 24 points that included a 4-for-5 effort from 3-point land. She also had four assists and five steals.
"When she's making shots that just makes us more un-guardable," UConn forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said. "When she's aggressive like she was today, no one can beat us."
Mosqueda-Lewis added 19 points and six assists. She had a trio of treys to tie Maya Moore for second on UConn's all-time list with 311. Diana Taurasi holds the record with 318.
Kia Nurse chipped in 13 points, seven assists, and four steals. Morgan Tuck had 12 points while Gabby Williams had 11 points, seven rebounds, and four steals. Stewart managed only six points but did grab 12 rebounds. Kiah Stokes blocked five shots.
Jefferson had totaled 11 points in her previous three games and was 5-for-24 from the floor.
"I just couldn't get anything to go for me," Jefferson said. "So it's always good to come out and have a game like this. I've been trying to think the same positive way every game and it happened for me this game. I just tried to be aggressive on defense and have that turn into offense."
Baskets by Stewart, Nurse, Tuck, and a three-point play by Jefferson made it 9-0 with 2:13 gone.
Freshman Alicia Froling -- one of eight first-year players on SMU's roster -- got the Mustangs (4-8, 0-1) on the board, but Jefferson scored eight points in a 11-0 run that made it 20-2.
"Obviously you want to see your guys play well," Auriemma said. "These last three games we've played, I don't know what's been the problem. It just hasn't been what I expected or what anyone else expected. Since we got back from Christmas, the last two practices have been really good for Moriah and she's gotten a lot of things done. She spent some time in the gym and today was a perfect example of all the things that she can provide to our team. As much as people want to play off of her and double inside a lot, she has to be able to make some outside shots. She proved today that she can."
Froling then netted her second hoop but UConn responded with the next 10 points, including five by Mosqueda-Lewis, to push the advantage to 30-4.
It was 49-16 at halftime as SMU finished the first 20 minutes with 22 turnovers. The Mustangs got no closer as the Huskies opened the second half with a 12-2 run.
Three players had seven points each for SMU.
After Duke, UConn returns to AAC action at East Carolina Wednesday.
For Auriemma to stay ahead of Barmore, UConn needs to follow up Saturday's win with six more victories before he could afford a loss.
"It seems like a long time ago from when I first met him," Williams said. "It was something that I never dreamed of, being recruited to play here and be at this level. To be able to be a part of his legacy and say that I played for him, it's something that will mean a lot to me forever. It's an honor to be a part of it."