Connecticut gives Big East at least one team in Elite 8

A quick take on Connecticut’s 74-67 win over San Diego State to advance to the Elite 8:

How the game was won: Well, how has Connecticut won any of its past eight games? Kemba Walker continued his torrid play, scoring 22 second half points as the Huskies advanced to the NCAA regional final where they will meet Arizona, who blew out Duke, 93-77. The Wildcats will have their hands full. Walker was next to unstoppable in the second half, scoring 12 straight Huskies points from the time period between 7:54 to 4:52. But even with Walker’s dominance, the Aztecs pulled to within 65-64 on DJ Gay’s 3-pointer. Jeremy Lamb responded with a 3 of his own with 1:39 left, and then made a leaping steal off a Gay pass that resulted in a breakaway slam dunk to put the game away.

What it means: Jimmer Fredette and BYU lost to Florida in overtime, 83-74. There’s been a lot of talk over the past few days who is the more exciting player, but after Thursday, it’s a non-issue going forward. Walker was the face of the Big East tournament, and with one more win, he’ll take the prize as the talk of the NCAA tournament. It is also a saving grace for the Big East, who is guaranteed at least one team in the Elite 8 after only two of 11 teams advanced to the Sweet 16. The only other Big East team still left, Marquette, will play North Carolina tomorrow. The win also advances the Huskies to the Elite 8 for the 10th time in school history.

Star gazing: Jeremy Lamb is establishing himself as Connecticut’s next go-to player with a career-high 24 points. Besides Walker, there’s been no one more valuable than Lamb, whose 3-pointer, steal and pair of dunks with under two minutes left helped Connecticut pull away. Gay finished with a team-high 16 points as San Diego State was ousted in its first ever Sweet 16 game.

What’s next: Connecticut will play Arizona, who looked dominant against Duke. Keep an eye out for Derrick Williams, who scored 32 and had 13 rebounds against the Blue Devils. He was the Pac-10 Player of the Year and is one of the most dynamic players in the country.

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Wes Cheng

About Wes Cheng

Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.
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