NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Kemba Walker scored 28 points in another stellar performance, and No. 21 Connecticut remained alive in the Big East tournament with an easy 79-62 second-round victory over No. 22 Georgetown on Wednesday.
Despite being the higher ranked team, the Huskies (23-9) had fallen all the way to the ninth seed in the conference tournament and were forced to beat DePaul in the opening round just to face the eighth-seeded Hoyas. UConn now gets top-seeded Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals.
Georgetown (21-10) still has not won since losing guard Chris Wright to a broken left hand.
The senior spent the afternoon on the end of the bench dressed in a suit with a brace still covering up the injury. He was hurt Feb. 23 at Cincinnati, and coach John Thompson III has said that Wright could return for the NCAA tournament.
That sure seems like a long shot the way they’ve been playing lately.
The Huskies also had been struggling coming into Madison Square Garden, losing four of their last five regular-season games. But with Walker putting together two masterful performances and UConn getting some inspired inside play for the first time in weeks, the Huskies appear capable of becoming the first team to reach championship Saturday after starting off on Tuesday.
Walker had 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the opener against DePaul. He only had 11 at halftime Wednesday, but dominated over the final 20 minutes, eclipsing Richard Hamilton for fourth on the school’s single-season scoring list. The league’s second-leading scorer now has 748 points this season — with at least a couple games still to go.
Walker checked out of the game with 1:07 remaining, getting a handshake from coach Jim Calhoun and a standing ovation from the crowd. He had six rebounds and three assists, and scored all of his points without hitting a 3-pointer.
Jason Clark had 23 points and Austin Freeman scored 20 to lead the Hoyas, but the backcourt duo combined to go 2 for 13 from beyond the 3-point arc.
One of the nation’s best shooting teams, Georgetown was only 5 of 22 from 3-point range.
The Hoyas got off to a good start and the teams were tied 15-all midway through the first half, before Roscoe Smith scored his only basket to start a 22-7 spurt. By the time Jeremy Lamb hit a
3-pointer with 3:36 left, the Huskies had pulled ahead 37-22.
The biggest problem for Georgetown in the first half was the inside play of Alex Oriakhi and Charles Okwandu, who gave the Huskies a big advantage on the glass.
It didn’t hurt that Walker was his usual dazzling self.
The generously listed 6-foot-1 spark plug got Georgetown into early foul trouble with his dribble penetration and slick ball handling. He also got things done on defense, blocking a shot by Hollis Thompson late in the first half, gathering in the loose ball before coasting the length of the floor for a layup and another fowl. He missed the free throw.
Clark scored in the closing seconds at the other end, but UConn still led 42-30 at halftime.
The Hoyas never managed to mount a comeback in the second half, getting only as close as 49-38 a few minutes out of the brake. Walker had answers every time the Hoyas threatened to put a couple of baskets together, while getting a bit of help from his fellow guards.
Jamal Coombs-McDaniel finished with 12 points and Lamb had 11 for UConn.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)