College Basketball Nation: 2011 NCAA Anaheim

Connecticut's remarkable run continues

March, 27, 2011
3/27/11
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The brim of the Final Four hat was pulled down over Kemba Walker's tired eyes, but he perked up at one particular question.

Was it a motivating factor this year that the Big East coaches had picked Connecticut to finish ninth in their preseason poll?

“Tenth,” Walker said, correcting the reporter.

UConn, an inexperienced team led by an inspired scoring guard and an embattled Hall of Fame coach -- who made sure his players knew few thought they would be a top team -- is off to Houston after beating Arizona 65-63 in the West Regional final Saturday.

The third-seeded Huskies, 9-0 in the past 19 days, embraced one another on the Honda Center floor after two Arizona 3-point attempts missed in the final seconds. The celebration capped off their ninth straight win since the start of a Big East tournament title run -- a streak that gave them momentum and renewed confidence after limping into New York with an 1-4 close to the regular season.

[+] EnlargeKemba Walker
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireKemba Walker had 20 points and seven assists as Connecticut advanced to the Final Four.
What motivated them to reach a fourth Final Four under Jim Calhoun was that people doubted the mere possibility. “That became the theme,” said Calhoun, who also dealt with an NCAA investigation into prior recruiting violations this season. “I let them know every single day.”

Walker was named the Most Outstanding Player of the regional after scoring 20 points and dishing out seven assists Saturday. He didn’t have his best shooting performance (7-for-17), and quite possibly his best move was encouraging the team to feed the ball to freshman Jeremy Lamb.

“He looked at Jeremy and said, ‘And you’ll make those shots, too,’” Calhoun said.

After fifth-seeded Arizona came back from a seven-point halftime deficit to take a 55-52 lead, Lamb scored six of his 19 points as part of a 10-0 UConn run -- capped by his steal and dunk. Together, Lamb and Walker have scored 70 percent of Connecticut's points during the NCAA tournament.

“He answered the bell personally after our run,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “He made it look easy. The fact that he had 19 hurt way more than Kemba having 20.”

Derrick Williams scored 20 points despite playing only seven first-half minutes due to his three personal fouls, and had a chance to win the game. A 60 percent 3-point shooter, Williams missed a 3 with seven seconds left. “I was open,” Williams lamented. The shot could be the final attempt of his college career if the sophomore sensation leaves for the NBA draft.

“I was nervous,” Walker said. “Derrick’s been on fire the whole tournament. It was a clean shot.”

Kyle Fogg, who had spent the game chasing around Walker on defense, corralled the rebound and fed the ball to Jamelle Horne in the corner. Horne, the Wildcats’ lone senior, missed from beyond the arc as well, and the final buzzer sounded.

“The second one I definitely thought was going in,” Lamb said.

UConn, which starts three freshmen and a sophomore alongside Walker, won this game not with an eye-popping performance from the national player of the year candidate, but as a team. Lamb showed so much poise that Walker deferred to him. Alex Oriakhi provided a formidable inside presence with seven points and six rebounds. And freshman Shabazz Napier came off the bench to score 10 points and grab four rebounds.

“All season I don’t think anybody expected us to get to this point,” said Walker, who was a freshman on the 2009 Final Four team. “It’s special.”

[+] EnlargeSean Miller
AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillEven after a heartbreaker, Arizona fans have to feel good about their future under Sean Miller.
Miller said he could live with the result given that his team had two shots to win the game that just didn’t fall. The Wildcats, the Pac-10’s leading 3-point shooting team, were 4-for-21 (19 percent) from beyond the arc Saturday. They did reach the 30-win mark this season and Miller took a team that started three sophomores just one bucket away from the Final Four.

“For us to be one of the last teams standing, a lot of people want to be in our shoes, and we got here,” Arizona point guard Lamont Jones said. “It’s unfortunate that it has to end here, but the feeling of playing here is just a great feeling. It’s something that you’ll always remember.”

Jones wrapped both arms around Walker, his former high school teammate in New York City, at the end of the handshake line. Sandwiched in there was Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson, who was Walker’s AAU coach and had done all he could to game plan against his former player.

In the end, it was Calhoun who had the winning formula. His team made an early statement by winning the Maui Invitational despite the doom and gloom that many predicted in the preseason. The Huskies then endured a Big East season that left them tied for ninth in the standings, all the while waiting for, and accepting, an NCAA punishment that included probation and a three-game conference suspension for Calhoun next season.

Now they’re off to Houston after compiling a hard-to-fathom 12-0 record in tournament games this season (Maui, Big East, NCAA).

“A good friend of mine once said, ‘I don’t mind fighting you in an open space, but I hate to put you in a corner,’” Calhoun said. “If I take something personally, I’m going to do everything humanly possible to make sure your perception is wrong. These kids allowed that to happen.”

Video: Kemba Walker on final sequence

March, 27, 2011
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Connecticut's Kemba Walker on how nervous he was in the closing moments of the Huskies' victory over Arizona.

Video: Sean Miller on Derrick Williams

March, 26, 2011
3/26/11
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Arizona coach Sean Miller commented on the future of star forward Derrick Williams, who will soon have to decide whether to return to Tucson for his junior season or jump to the NBA.

Rapid Reaction: Connecticut 65, Arizona 63

March, 26, 2011
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Connecticut advanced to the Final Four after hanging onto a 65-63 win that went down to the final possession, with Derrick Williams and Jamelle Horne missing 3-point attempts in the final seconds. The Huskies were led by Kemba Walker's 20 points, and freshman Jeremy Lamb's 19. Williams was limited to seven first-half minutes due to foul trouble, but he finished with 20 points. The Wildcats also got a big game out of Jesse Perry, who had 14 points.

Turning point: Arizona clawed its way back into the game and took a 55-52 lead, but UConn proceeded to go on a 10-0 run with Lamb leading the way. He scored six of those points, stealing the ball and going in for the dunk to give the Huskies a 62-55 advantage.

Key player: Walker, the MVP of the West region, came through when it counted most. He hit a jump shot over the outstretched arms of Williams to give UConn a 65-60 lead with 1:15 left. Walker didn't have his best shooting day (7-for-17), but had seven assists and forced a late turnover.

Key stats: Lamb got involved in the offense and came through with 19 points, his ninth double-digit effort during UConn's current 9-0 postseason streak. He also hit two 3-pointers, had two steals and didn't turn the ball over once. ... On the flip side, Arizona -- a team that led the Pac-10 in 3-point shooting (40.3 percent) -- shot a season-worst 19 percent from long range (4-of-21).

Miscellaneous: Arizona rallied, but was limited in what it could do after Williams picked up three fouls after just seven minutes in the first half. The Wildcats were leading by 10 when he picked up his second foul, and ended up trailing at the half by seven after a 22-7 UConn run. Williams scored 14 second-half points, but you have to wonder what would have been had the fouls not gotten in his way. ... Walker is now averaging 26.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 6.8 apg in this NCAA tournament. Only two other players (Michigan's Gary Grant and Ohio State's Dennis Hopson, both in 1987) have played at least two games and averaged 25 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds in a single NCAA tourney. ... Connecticut advances to its fourth Final Four. All four times the Huskies have come out of the West region. ... UConn is 12-0 in tournament games this season (3-0 Maui, 5-0 Big East, 4-0 NCAAs)

What’s next: UConn moves on to play in Houston against the winner of the East Regional final between North Carolina and Kentucky.

Video: Vitale, Bilas pick Saturday games

March, 26, 2011
3/26/11
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Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas make their predictions for Butler-Florida and Arizona-Connecticut.

Elite Eight preview: Arizona vs. Connecticut

March, 26, 2011
3/26/11
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A look at the Huskies-Wildcats matchup at the Honda Center in Anaheim:

No. 5 seed Arizona (30-7) vs. No. 3 seed Connecticut (29-9), 7:05 p.m. ET (CBS)

How they got here: Behind a huge 36-point performance from Kemba Walker, UConn was able to knock off San Diego State 74-67 to get to this game. Walker continued to show he is one of the nation’s great scorers and big-game players by scoring at will. He also had help, as freshman Jeremy Lamb scored 24 points to help beat the second-seeded Aztecs. Arizona also got a big game out of its star player, with Derrick Williams going off for 32 points and 13 rebounds in a 93-77 trouncing of defending national champion Duke. Williams scored 25 of those points in the first half, and the Wildcats played their best basketball of the season by scoring 55 points and decimating the Blue Devils’ defense after halftime.

Storyline: The two programs have proud histories, combining for 18 Elite Eights, seven Final Fours and three national championships. Yet they've somehow never met in the NCAA tournament. They have played four times in the regular season, though, and UConn has won each of the meetings, including the last one -- a 79-70 victory in the 2005 Maui Invitational.

This one will be a star-studded affair, and the winner will celebrate a Final Four berth along with the satisfaction that rebuilding projects don’t have to take long after all.

Third-seeded UConn has had to deal with an NCAA investigation into recruiting violations that landed the program on probation. Last season, the Huskies lost 16 games and finished 7-11 in the Big East. But with a young roster and an explosive scorer in Walker, coach Jim Calhoun has the Huskies back within a win of the Final Four.

“We’re moving on to hopefully a Final Four, and we’ve had a fabulous year, and we would love to get to the Final Four,” Calhoun said.

Fifth-seeded Arizona has upset Texas and Duke on its way to the Elite Eight. Coach Sean Miller has done wonders putting together, and developing, a roster that has quickly matured. Williams has emerged as one of the nation’s most dominant forces and clutch players, and the Wildcats are peaking at the right time after running the defending champs off the court by scoring the most points of any Duke tourney opponent in 14 years.

“I’m sure on UConn’s end, that would be the team that they don’t want to see because that’s probably the best that we’ve played,” Miller said.

Players to watch: Walker called Williams the best player he’s seen this season before Calhoun corrected him. “He’s a terrific player, and I would have to disagree with Kemba for once,” Calhoun said of Williams. “I think he is probably the second-best player in America.”

Of course, Calhoun likes his own guy very much. Since helping the Huskies win five games in five days at the Big East tournament, Walker has remained hot in the NCAA tourney and has surpassed the 30-point total in his past two games. It will be an interesting matchup watching Walker go up against his friend and former New York City high school teammate Lamont "MoMo" Jones.

“I think our guys really understand the focus and the energy that it takes to do the best job you can against a player like him,” said Miller, who likes that the Wildcats have experience playing against Washington’s Isaiah Thomas.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Williams
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelIn his last four games, Derrick Williams is averaging 23.8 points and 10.8 rebounds. He also has two game-saving plays in the final seconds.
Williams, while conceding that Walker would make his share of shots, emphasized that crashing the boards would be a key to winning the game. “It’s really just about getting defensive rebounds and whenever those guys miss just make sure we get the rebound,” he said.

For UConn, it will have to contain Williams not only on the glass, but also from making game-changing plays. “He’s definitely a great player and the key to that team,“ Huskies big man Alex Oriakhi said. “If we can do a good job of keeping him off the boards, I think we’re going to make it tough on them.”

What to look for: Arizona’s rotation is deep and really showed up against Texas and Duke. Solomon Hill and Jesse Perry, along with reserves like Jamelle Horne, Kevin Parrom and Brendon Lavender, have given solid rebounding performances in the tournament. “Bottom line, the diversity and the flexibility of their team in many ways gives you grave concerns,” Calhoun said.

UConn is a young team growing up right in front of the nation. Sophomore Oriakhi and freshman Roscoe Smith showed they can control the boards. And Lamb, also only a freshman, is coming off a 24-point performance and has scored in double-figures for eight games in a row. “He’s playing with great confidence, shooting the ball at a very high level,” Miller said.

Arizona doesn’t just consist of Williams, and the same goes for UConn and Walker. The game could very well come down to which team’s complementary players step forward.

Video: Connecticut's Jeremy Lamb

March, 26, 2011
3/26/11
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Connecticut freshman Jeremy Lamb, coming off a 24-point performance against San Diego State, discusses the challenges of facing Derrick Williams and the pressures of playing in his first NCAA tournament.

Will Arizona pair be Kemba's kryptonite?

March, 26, 2011
3/26/11
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Kemba Walker furrowed his brow a little and slowly shook his head as he smiled. The Connecticut star wasn’t buying the idea that Arizona had what it took to stop him -- a scouting report with a unique perspective.

Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson was Walker’s AAU coach. Before it was even determined that the two teams would meet on Saturday for the right to go to the Final Four, Wildcats coach Sean Miller happened to assign the UConn scouting assignment to the man who knew what made one of the nation’s top scorers tick.

But Walker didn’t think it was a cause for concern that Richardson was on the opposing bench, presumably possessing knowledge of how to slow him down in a way recent opponents have failed to do.

“He doesn’t,” Walker said. “Everybody who knows me thinks they have a way to stop me.”

Richardson is the former director of the star-studded New York Gauchos AAU program in the Bronx and remains close to Walker. In fact, as Walker was taking over Thursday’s regional semifinal game with a 36-point outburst against San Diego State, he kept looking over to Richardson seated behind press row and yelling during the contest.

[+] EnlargeKemba Walker
Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireWith his former AAU coach watching from press row, Kemba Walker lit up SDSU.
“He hit a 3 and said, 'Oh my God, Book. They can’t guard me.' He looked over and winked,” Richardson said. (Walker told reporters he doesn’t recall what was said.)

In response, Richardson found himself actually coaching Walker again just as he was a few years ago. He kept repeating words to Walker and asked him to focus. “I’m like, 'Finish,' ” Richardson said. “Win.”

Immediately after the Huskies won, Walker spotted Richardson in the tunnel of the Honda Center as Arizona was preparing for its game against Duke and said, “I’ll see you on Saturday.”

Today, Richardson has mixed feelings as he game plans against Walker, who he has known since age 13. Back then, there were times the kid would crash on his couch and his wife would cook for the impromptu house guest. Walker wore braids, liked dancing and was big into video games.

Richardson sometimes gave tough love, kicking the player out of practice. The Gauchos only lost once with Walker on the team, but Richardson always pushed him to do better.

“He just made you feel he’s more than a coach,” Walker said.

When Walker told Richardson as a sophomore that Connecticut was the school that he hoped would recruit him, the coach matter-of-factly said he wasn’t good enough to go there. “I don’t want to watch you cheerlead,” Richardson said then.

But because of Walker’s confidence in his game and talent that developed, UConn will end up remembering him as one of the school’s all-time greats. It’s Richardson’s job to make sure Walker doesn’t get to use the Arizona game to further his legacy.

“I’m fortunate because I understand when he steps back, what he’s looking for,” Richardson said. “Does that mean you’re going to be able to stop it? I don’t know.

“The same things you once told him, that’s what you’re trying to implement. It’s bittersweet. You want him to do well, but you want to win.”

Said Miller: “You can still have a great gameplan and play hard and well, and he will still have a huge night. He’s, to me, the best guard that plays college basketball.”

It is Richardson’s godson, Arizona point guard Lamont Jones, who will be one of the players charged with keeping Walker in check. Walker and Jones shared a backcourt for two years at Rice High School and remain friends. He said Jones was like a little brother.

“He plays so hard that he makes you play hard,” Walker said. “I’m pretty sure he’s definitely going to bring the best out of me [Saturday].”

Asked once again if Richardson -- or even Jones -- might actually know the secret to stopping him, Walker didn't sound as sure.

“Man, let me think about that,” he said. “I don’t know. Probably not. I don’t think so. I hope they don’t.”

Video: Arizona-Connecticut preview

March, 25, 2011
3/25/11
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Jay Williams previews the Arizona-Connecticut Elite 8 matchup.

Duke no match for underdog Arizona

March, 25, 2011
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Derrick Williams had sensed the disrespect. In his mind, not many thought Arizona could actually upset defending national champion Duke.

But with Williams, the Wildcats have a game-changer unlike any other. By the time he got done scoring 32 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in a 93-77 win against Duke, Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski was left heaping praise on the star sophomore and telling the 6-foot-8 forward that he was indeed special.

“He’s as good as anybody we’ve played, or I should say better than anybody we’ve played,” said Krzyzewski, who finished the season with 900 career Division I wins. “Even when he’s not scoring, he spreads you out. There is a physicality to his game. Clean, beautiful -- he’s a beautiful player.”

Williams’ 32 points tied a school record for most points in an NCAA tournament game, and it was the first time since 1990 that any player has scored that many in a win over the defending champs. It was a dominating performance that carried the Wildcats into a matchup with Connecticut in the Elite Eight, a place the Cats haven't been in six years.

For all the doubters who thought a young Arizona team under second-year coach Sean Miller was not yet ready to experience glory days, Williams provided the response on the court and with words of his own.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Williams and Kyle Singler
AP Photo/Jae C. HongDerrick Williams and Arizona sent Kyle Singler and Duke hurtling out of the tournament.
“It just proves a lot of people wrong right there,” Williams said. “I think a lot of people -- media, fans, friends -- said that we couldn’t do it, and this proved them all wrong. I think that next time that they pick somebody else to beat us, they’ll think differently.”

Williams, whose season has been defined by last-minute heroics -- including each of UA's first two tourney games -- this time made his deepest impact in the first half, when he scored 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He made five 3-pointers, including one with a second left on the clock to give the Wildcats a manageable six-point halftime deficit.

For all its NCAA tournament experience, Duke ended up getting dominated in a 55-point second half for Arizona, which ended up scoring more points than any Blue Devil tourney opponent in 14 years. The Wildcats went on a 19-2 run during which Lamont Jones tied the score at 53 with a jump shot and Jamelle Horne hit a 3-pointer to give Zona the lead. Horne, Williams and Brendon Lavender later soared for dunks, and the Wildcats got plenty of second-chance opportunities as well.

“In the second half, I just think they were the aggressor,” said Duke guard Kyrie Irving, who scored 28 points in his third game since returning from a toe injury. “They were throwing a lot more punches than us. Tonight they were the better team.”

While Irving said after the game that he remains undecided about his future at Duke, it was the end of the line for seniors Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler. Krzyzewski had them both check out for the last time with 2:01 left and the Blue Devils trailing by 17, drawing them close and saying a few words.

The abrupt realization that his career was over caused Smith to bury his head in a towel and choke back tears on the bench. He scored eight points, going only 3-for-14 from the field while committing six of the team’s 11 turnovers. “Everybody on their team stepped up,” said a stunned Smith.

Singler had 18 points and eight rebounds, but the Wildcats shot 54 percent and controlled the glass by a 40-27 margin (25-9 in the second half). With the Blue Devils unable to stop Williams from further improving his NBA draft stock, they never made a serious run to get back into the game.

“Seeing them on the sideline and the name on their jerseys, we were bracing for it,” Horne said.

But the expected Duke run simply never came.

Said Krzyzewski: “They were phenomenal in the second half. We couldn’t stop ‘em. We just couldn’t stop ‘em.”

Duke could never find its rhythm, with Williams’ talent unmatched and his motivation for beating Duke made clear after the game. He knew all about the last meeting between the two schools in the 2001 national championship game that Duke won.

“One fan told me, ‘My shirt is getting small from the 1997 championship. I need another one,’” Williams said. “That flipped the switch. I want to give everyone what they want.”

In front of family and friends near his hometown and plenty of Arizona fans who made the short trip, Williams will now have a chance to help the Wildcats reach the Final Four for the first time since that '01 title game. A one-man wrecking crew at times, he’s destroying the notion that these Cats can’t start a new chapter in the program’s storied history.

“If we win this game on Saturday," Williams said, "we’re going to be known as one of the best Arizona teams to play."

Video: Arizona's Jamelle Horne

March, 25, 2011
3/25/11
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Arizona senior Jamelle Horne on how it feels to be part of a victory over top-seeded Duke.

Rapid Reaction: Arizona 93, Duke 77

March, 25, 2011
3/25/11
12:16
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Arizona stunned defending national champion Duke 93-77, as the Wildcats head to the Elite Eight after outscoring the Blue Devils 55-33 in the second half. Derrick Williams had 32 points and 13 rebounds in a dominating performance that won't soon be forgotten. The last player with 30 points and 10 rebounds in a win over a No. 1 seed? Carmelo Anthony against Texas in the 2003 Final Four. Lamont Jones scored 16, and Solomon Hill added 13. Duke was led by Kyrie Irving's 28 points, but Nolan Smith struggled mightily in his final game. Smith scored eight points on 3-for-14 shooting and committed six turnovers. The national player of the year candidate averaged just 13.6 points per game in the NCAA tournament.

Turning point: A Williams dunk extended the Arizona lead to 73-61, and it wasn’t just any other dunk. Williams faked out his defender and then drove the lane for an uncontested slam. The exclamation point came during a relatively quiet second half for Williams, who scored 25 points in the first. But the power dunk sent the message to Duke that it wasn’t going to be the Blue Devils’ night.

Key player: Williams was simply masterful, finishing 11-for-17 from the field and going 5-for-6 from beyond the arc. Six of his 13 rebounds were on the offensive glass. The Pac-10 player of the year's NBA draft stock shot up, but first comes a chance at making it to the Final Four.

Key stat: Arizona outrebounded Duke 40-27 (25-9 in the second half), capitalizing on Williams' dominance and relying on 16 offensive rebounds for numerous easy shots. Williams had a putback dunk in the first half that rattled the rim and wowed the crowd. Jesse Perry had six rebounds, and Hill had five.

Miscellaneous: The Wildcats are back in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2005. ... Duke now has five losses in the Sweet 16 as a top seed in the NCAA tournament. According to ESPN Stats & Information, no other program has more than two. ... Despite Irving's performance, the Blue Devils lacked an outside shooting presence and couldn't match up with Williams. ... Kyle Singler had 18 points and eight rebounds in his final game, but it wasn't enough. ... Entering Thursday, 5-seeds were 6-38 all time against No. 1 seeds. There's now a seventh member of that club. ... This was the fifth-most lopsided tournament loss in Duke history and the second-worst ever by a 1-seed prior to the Elite Eight. Ohio State's 17-point loss to St. John's in 1991 tops the list. ... Arizona's 93 points were the most scored by a Duke opponent in the NCAA tournament since 1997.

What’s next: No. 5 seed Arizona moves on to play No. 3 seed UConn on Saturday for the right to go to the Final Four.

Aztecs hurting, but have left a legacy

March, 24, 2011
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Moments after the best season in San Diego State history, coach Steve Fisher offered his team words of consolation.

“The last thing I will say that I said to our team is give one another a hard hug and tell them how much you love them, and don't be ashamed to cry. Don't be ashamed to shed a tear,” Fisher said.

“You've done so much for San Diego State, the community, and for yourselves that when we reflect back on it, all of us will know that, the legacy that you've established.”

[+] EnlargeSan Diego State
AP Photo/Jae C. HongThe 2010-11 Aztecs took San Diego State to heights it had not seen, but were still disappointed with a loss to UConn.
There will be plenty of what-ifs when the Aztecs ultimately think back to their 74-67 loss to Connecticut in the Sweet 16. What if Kawhi Leonard and Jamaal Franklin hadn’t been whistled for technical fouls? What if the Aztecs hadn’t missed more than half of their free throws? What if Kemba Walker was actually stoppable on Thursday?

But immediately after the game, what the Aztecs did not lose was their perspective.

“We went from nobody even knowing about San Diego State,” senior Billy White said. “Everyone knew it as a party school.”

San Diego State showed the nation that it could indeed dance. The Aztecs knocked off Northern Colorado and Temple to set up this game about an hour-and-a-half from campus in front of their fans and against one of the blue bloods.

They simply couldn’t stop Walker, who went against three different defenders one-on-one and still scored 36 points.

“He made some tough shots on us,” White said. “He’s fearless.”

Said Chase Tapley: “He was feeling it. He’s just a great player.”

San Diego State didn’t do itself any favors either. Leonard was called for a technical in the first half that sent him to the bench with his second personal foul. He had exchanged words with a UConn player. “My comment (to the official) was, ‘At this level and this stage, could you not say something to them,’” Fisher said.

With 9:19 left and San Diego State hanging onto a four-point lead, Franklin was T’d up for bumping into Walker, who fell to the floor and then hit the two free throws. “I don’t know how hard he was hit,” San Diego State senior point guard D.J. Gay said.

Walker would take over the game, but the Aztecs did have one final chance. With San Diego State trailing by a point, Leonard had an open look at a 3-pointer, but missed it with 2:13 left. On the other end of the court, Jeremy Lamb hit a back-breaking 3.

“It should hurt, regardless of when, where and how,” Fisher said. “For our team this year, for what they've accomplished, it hurts exponentially more.”

Said Gay, who scored 16 second-half points in his last hurrah: “We didn’t want it to come to an end.”

Video: Kemba Walker can't be stopped

March, 24, 2011
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Hubert Davis on UConn advancing past San Diego State to the Elite Eight.

Video: Connecticut freshman Jeremy Lamb

March, 24, 2011
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UConn's Jeremy Lamb tied a career-high with 24 points in the Huskies' Sweet 16 victory over San Diego State. In three NCAA tourney game, the freshman is shooting 74.1 percent and averaging 18.0 ppg.

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