It was another Big Monday last night as ESPN showed a pair of hotly contested games which featured two of the top three teams in the country. In the first game, UConn went into Villanova and shocked the number three ranked Wildcats with an outstanding performance. The nightcap featured a game in which Kansas definitely did not bring its A game, but was able to save face with a hard-fought victory at Texas A&M.
Was this the same UConn team that Cincinnati embarrassed at the Gampel Pavilion on Saturday? I mean this looked to be a vintage Jim Calhoun Huskies team last night. They thoroughly outrebounded their opponent, got to the free throw stripe 44 times, and were led by their star player with a big time performance on the primetime stage (Kemba Walker). It was nice to see the team that many had expected all year. People forget that this UConn team was picked to come in third in the Big East at the start of the year. They were supposed to be just behind Villanova and West Virginia. Also this UConn team was still a top ten team at the end of December. The Huskies have been plagued by a brutal schedule and the inability to grind out close games. Not to mention they had not won a true road game all year.
Well this all changed last night as UConn demonstrated why there was hype around this team early on this year with an outstanding performance. Villanova did not play a horrible game and was just flat-out beat by a hungry Huskies team. Kemba Walker played like an All American, really controlling the game from the onset and outplaying Villanova superstar Scottie Reynolds. Walker finished with a career high 29 points, 9 rebounds, and only 2 turnovers against a very fast and uptempo Nova defense. I am sure Jim Calhoun went to bed much more satisfied after this game than he did following the embarrassing defeat at the hands of Cincinnati on Saturday where his team was held to a minute 48 points.
Do not sleep on this Huskies team. They lost very hotly contested games to the likes of Kentucky, Syracuse, Duke, and Georgetown. Even if they do not get into the tourney field, they could definitely burst some of their opponent’s bubbles or cost some a shot at a 1 seed.
In the nightcap Kansas really was off shooting the ball all night. Their leader Sherron Collins had quite possibly his worst game of the season and nobody in the lineup scored more than 12 points. Yet the Jayhawks showed why they are the number 1 team in the country by grinding out the victory in a very loud Reed Arena in College Station, Texas.
The best stat of the game. Kansas held A&M scoreless in the last 4 minutes plus. That is the sign of a champion and that is how you win close ball games. Hold your opponent scoreless down the stretch, and you have a great chance at pulling out a victory against anybody. It is hard to win when you are not playing your best but Kansas showed the ability to due this against a solid A&M opponent on the road.
So my question for you. With Jim Calhoun back on the sidelines, does Connecticut have any prayer at making the NCAA Tourney or is it to little to late?
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.