Rapid Reaction: UConn 97, DePaul 71
March, 8, 2011
By Kieran Darcy | ESPNChicago.com
NEW YORK -- A quick take on No. 9 seed Connecticut's 97-71 win over No. 16 seed DePaul in the first round of the Big East tournament on Tuesday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
WHAT IT MEANS: UConn improves to 22-9 on the season, and advances to the second round of the Big East tournament. The Huskies had lost their first first game of the Big East tourney the past five years, so they broke that streak on Tuesday.
DePaul drops to 7-24, and is eliminated from the tournament. The Blue Demons finish the season 1-18 in Big East play, including Tuesday's game.
THE SKINNY: In the first half, UConn sprinted out on separate 9-0, 15-0 and 11-0 runs -- the Huskies led by as many as 23, 45-22 -- but DePaul scord the final six points of the half to stay within striking distance (barely), at 45-28. Freshman swingman Jeremy Lamb had 17 points in the first 20 minutes for UConn.
Give DePaul credit for hanging in this one, when they could easily have packed it in. The Blue Demons actually cut the deficit to seven points twice in the middle stages of the second half -- but that's as close as they got. With the score 68-61 and just under nine minutes remaining, UConn raced out on a 17-3 run to put the game away.
STAR WATCH: Lamb had the hot first half, but first-team All-Big East guard Kemba Walker poured it on in the second half, scoring 19 of his game-high 26 points after the break. Walker, a Bronx native, has to be pumped about playing at the Garden this week -- perhaps his final college games at MSG, if the junior elects to turn pro.
It was simply too much to ask for DePaul to win a game in this tournament. Not only did the Blue Demons win just one game in the conference regular season, but leading scorer Cleveland Melvin sat out with a sprained thumb. Fellow freshman Brandon Young had 20 points, four rebounds and four assists in his first Big East tourney game.
NUMBER CRUNCH: Jim Calhoun's club came in the No. 10 team in the country in rebounds per game (39.7) -- Oliver Purnell's squad was No. 321 in the country (30.7). So, it came as no surprise that the Huskies outboarded the Blue Demons, 46-22.
That margin wasn't helped by the fact that DePaul shot just 23-for-67 from the field (34.3 percent). UConn shot 33-for-55 (60 percent). The Huskies also shot 29-for-32 from the foul line (90.6 percent), outscored the Blue Demons 50-20 in the paint, and outscored them 26-2 on the fast break.
WHAT'S NEXT: UConn will play No. 8 seed Georgetown on Wednesday at noon. DePaul heads home to Chicago, and looks ahead to next season.