Instant analysis: UConn 61, Villanova 59

January, 17, 2011
1/17/11
6:12
PM ET
STORRS, Conn. -- Shabazz Napier had the ball, but the odds that Kemba Walker would get it back for the final shot were overwhelming.

Had he not it would have been blasphemous.

Everyone at Gampel Pavilion, and watching Monday afternoon on ESPN, knew Walker would take the last shot.

He did. He made it. Game over.

Connecticut 61, Villanova 59.

Importance for Connecticut: The Huskies desperately needed this game to stay in the Big East title chase. Big East teams hoping to stay with Pitt and Syracuse can’t lose at home. UConn still has plenty of tough road stops and this loss, while it wouldn’t have affected the Huskies for a NCAA bid, could have crushed its conference title chances. UConn moves to 4-2 in the Big East, and while the Huskies would lose to the Panthers in a tiebreaker (they lost at Pitt), they can catch Syracuse with only one game against the Orange -- at home.

Importance for Villanova: The Wildcats lost a road game to Connecticut in the Big East with Walker making the money shot to win the game. This won’t hurt Nova. Villanova would have been euphoric about stealing a road win like this. As long as there are road wins upcoming against top-tier teams, the Wildcats will be in the chase. The Cats get Pitt twice. The problem for Villanova is its next game -- at Syracuse on Saturday after the Orange play at Pitt on Monday night.

Star of the game: Fisher almost stole it from Walker with his 28 points and late-game exploits, but the honor has to go to Walker. He finished with 24 points, but it was his last 3-pointer and mid-range shot that won the game and will be remembered most.

Dud: Corey Stokes of Villanova had an awful game -- missing all six of his shots and watching as Walker buried a 3-pointer over his head with a minute left in the game.

Turning point: Connecticut’s pressure got the Huskies back in the game and changed the tempo. Villanova was winning inside and Walker wasn’t burning them yet. Turning up the heat got the Huskies going in the right direction.

Atmosphere: The game was a dud at times with its low score and poor possessions. But the atmosphere was electric, as it usually is here on campus. Having the game go down to a Walker shot with 2.5 seconds left allowed everyone to be euphoric at the end and added to a sensational college environment.

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