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UConn upsets No. 2 Michigan State in Hawaii
LAHAINA, Hawaii | Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun joked last week that he still didn’t know all his players’ names, much less how good they’re going to be.
After knocking out a heavyweight in a championship-caliber bout, he — and everyone else, for that matter — should know these young Huskies are for real.
Trading blows in the first half and big shots in the second, Connecticut solidified its return to elite-program status by knocking off No. 2 Michigan State 70-67 in a physical Maui Invitational semifinal on Tuesday.
“We just showed the world we can play,” said UConn’s Kemba Walker, who scored 30 points and hit a key jumper with less than a minute left.
Boy, did they.
Coming off a disappointing 2009-10 season, Connecticut (4-0) was looking for a prestige-building win.
The Huskies got it, fighting the mighty Spartans every inch every minute, refusing to be pushed around by a team projected to be a national title contender.
Walker had another big scoring night and hit the biggest shot, a fallaway jumper with 52 seconds left. Alex Oriakhi dominated inside for 15 points and 17 rebounds. UConn was good defensively, too, holding one of the nation’s best teams to 40 percent shooting.
The Huskies made it interesting by missing five free throws in the final 1:11, but survived Draymond Green’s midcourt heave at the buzzer to head into the championship game against No. 8 Kentucky or No. 13 Washington.
“This is an absolute tremendous team win,” Calhoun said.
Michigan State (3-1) had three chances to tie in the final 20 seconds, but Green missed two free throws, Kalin Lucas threw a pass to no one on a miscommunication with Durrell Summers and Green was just short on his desperation shot.
The Spartans had more chances than that throughout the game, but struggled to get good looks against UConn’s long-and-athletic defense and had some key turnovers late, including two after players fell on slippery spots near midcourt.
“I’m very disappointed with the way we finished,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “We had some things that just didn’t work out way.”
Green was at his do-it-all best most of the game, finishing with 22 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. He kept Michigan State in it with his offensive rebounding in the second half, but was kicking himself for missing those two free throws with 20 seconds left.
“Basically it falls on my shoulders,” Green said.
By David A. Clarke Jr.
Blame Washington's intelligence failure, not lack of police
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