Monday, April 4, 2011

Second Half Rout Leads UConn to the National Championship

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
The lady Huskies weren't able to add another National Championship to their already rich history but the men took care of business.

The Connecticut Huskies (32-9, 9-9) capped the season with an 11-game win streak and a National Championship.

"It may be the happiest moment of my life," UConn's head coach Jim Calhoun said after a 53-41 victory over Butler.

Calhoun joins elite company. Calhoun is only the fifth coach to win three NCAA titles joining Bob Knight, Mike Krzyzewski, Adolph Rupp and John Wooden.

"This group has taken me on one of the great special journeys better than any I could possibly imagine," Calhoun said.

Junior guard Kemba Walker chipped in a team high 16 points and was one rebound shy of a double-double.

His contributions were felt on both ends of the floor as he and his Huskie backcourt held Butler's in-check for most of the game.

Walker played a major part in the success but it was ultimately, Jeremy Lamb who stole the show in the second half.

Lamb ended the game with 12 points and seven rebounds on 4-of-8 (50%) shooting from the field. All of his points came in the second half after being on the bench facing foul trouble for most of the first.

"Going into halftime, I didn't have any points," said Lamb. "My teammates just encouraged me saying, we need you."

"Right out of the half, they ran a couple plays for me. I was able to get to the foul line. All I wanted to see was the ball go in the net. After I saw it go in a couple times, I got my confidence back and was able to knock down some shots."

Sophomore Alex Oriahki chipped-in the only double-double in the game with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Oriahki and Charles Okwandu did a magnificent job on Butler's star Matt Howard holding him to 1-of-13 (.07%) from the field, which is the lowest of his career, and seven points.

As a team, UConn wasn't much different.

UConn held Butler to a National Championship low 18 percent from the field and a half-court heave wouldn't even help their cause this time around.

18 percent was the lowest, ever, in any championship game and second lowest of any tournament game.

The Bulldogs scored a championship low 41-points. The lowest since Oklahoma State scored 36 in 1949.

Butler had one player in double-figures, led by Shelvin Mack's 13 points on 4-of-15 (26%) shooting from the field.

"They're a great team, great defensive team," Mack said. "They did a great job of contesting every shot. They just weren't falling today."

The Bulldogs were completely owned on the glass; Huskies had a 51-38 advantage and saw 10 of their shots get sent back.

"I knew they were a great rebounding team. I just boxed out went back to fundamentals," Oriahki said.

"I was able to box out, get a few rebounds here and there. I think that disrupted them because they weren't able to get second shots."

Coming in, most would of thought, if Butler could keep UConn in the 50's this game is won. But, it seemed like the Huskies emphasized defense more than offense because defense is the reason UConn walks away victorious.

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