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postGame: We Got Kemba'd

Game ended approximately 5:38 PM eastern time.  Connecticut Huskies defeat Villanova Wildcats 61-59.  Some notes on the game are below.

-Whatever momentum the Wildcats had after the big win on Saturday against Maryland was lost in the first five minutes of this contest vs. the UConn Huskies.  Villanova started out 0-10 from the field and as a result, the Huskies led 10-0 by the opening media timeout.

-A 6 point spurt by the Cats eased the early butterflies a little, but the missed layups and overall lack of movement in the offense was alarming.  Luckily, the Huskies never truly found their shooting touch either; the 12-6 Connecticut advantage halfway through signified the ineptitude of both teams.

-With the team unable to find any rhythm, Corey Fisher decided it was up to him to make some things happen.  Some crafty drives and pull-up jumpers from Fish actually allowed Villanova to take a 1 point lead into intermission.  While Fisher had 10 points by half, UConn star Kemba Walker had 11, although he scored 8 of those points in the first six minutes of the game.  Both squads shot 24% from the field in the first half.

-Halftime score: Villanova 22 Connecticut 21

More on the game after the jump...

-Each team came out of the break looking for some sort of fluidity on offense.  Finally, shots began to fall for both clubs, with Kemba Walker and Corey Fisher continuing to stand out as the go-to-guys.  Maalik Wayns started to get warm too, which helped in giving the Wildcats a 5 point edge with fourteen minutes left. 

-While the Walker-Fisher 1-on1 duel heated up, Antonio Pena sprinkled in a few jumpers for Nova, and Jeremy Lamb asserted himself for the Huskies with some drives to the bucket.  The seesaw affair came to a tipping point with five and change to go, and Villanova clinging to a 1 point lead.

-A few lapses by the Villanova defense gave UConn a couple of easy opportunities, and they seized the momentum in taking a 4 point lead by the last media timeout.  A 5 point lead with forty seconds left looked like it might be too little too late for the visitors, but Corey Fisher responded with an extremely tough three pointer.  After 2 Kemba Walker missed free throws, he fouled Fisher on the other end, and Fish calmly sank both free throws to tie up the game at 59.  

-With 20 secs. remaining, everyone in the building knew Walker was going to take the last shot.  Walker blew by Corey Stokes at the top of the key and hit a 7-foot floater with 2.5 seconds on the clock.  A Fisher prayer at midcourt as the buzzer sounded was off the mark to seal the victory for the Huskies. 

-Stats-wise, Fisher was a one man show, as he scored 28 points on 10-22 shooting, while also dishing out 6 assists.  Mouphtaou Yarou had 8 points and 10 rebounds, and Antonio Pena chipped in with 8 points and 5 boards.  Corey Stokes didn't have it today, as evidenced by his 0-6 shooting from the field.  For the opponents, Kemba Walker had 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, but he only shot 33%.  Big man Alex Oriakhi notched 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and Jeremy Lamb scored 14 as well.

-General observations:

  • UConn definitely has some talent on the roster, but I think it's going to be tough with little help for Walker on the offensive end.  The Huskies will be difficult to beat at home, but they may be a year or two away. 
  • One positive to take away from this game is the Wildcat defense.  Obviously, everyone other than Corey Fisher struggled on the offensive end, but they still played stellar defense amidst the shooting woes.  UConn's defense was also very impressive, and they completely shut down Corey Stokes. 
  • I haven't seen too many UConn games this year, but Walker is certainly the real deal.  Villanova actually played him well overall, but there's no doubt he's the best player in the Big East and maybe the country right now.
  • It's only one loss, but this hurts with a very difficult road game coming up at Syracuse on Saturday.  The Cats definitely need a few days of rest to get their legs back, but I would not be surpised to see an 0-2 week for Villanova.
  • Bottom line: Can't go down 10-0 like that on the road in a hostile environment.