Coming down the stretch against Louisville in the Big East final Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, you could tell Connecticut's Kemba Walker was just about at the end of his tether as the climax of his fifth game in five days approached. But somewhere, he found the wherewithal, the guts, the heart -- whatever you want to call it -- to help the Huskies pull out a 69-66 victory and become the first team in college history to win five games for its conference title.
In the final minute of the game, Walker forced Louisville's Preston Knowles to miss a three-pointer. He then drove the length of the court, split a double-team and fed teammate Jeremy Lamb for the go-ahead basket and a65-64 lead with 33.6 seconds to play. Then, when the Cardinals' Mike Marra botched an inbounds pass, Walker came up with the ball, was fouled and made both for a 67-64 lead. Rushing back on defense, Walker again forced Knowles to miss a three. When the ball came to Marra, Walker made his one mistake, fouling him on a three-point attempt, but he got a reprieve when Marra missed one of three shots. Finally, after Shabazz Nappier hit a couple foul shots for a 69-66 lead, Walker was pressuring Knowles when he missed the last three-point attempt.
That was just the final minute of the 190 Walker played out of a possible 205 in five games, including the overtime semifinal win against Syracuse. Busy guy.
Here is a summary of Walker's five-game totals: 130 points (most ever in a conference tourney in the nation and a 26.0 average), 32 rebounds (6.4), 21 assists (4.2), 14 steals (2.8), 190 minutes (38.0). He made 41 of 87 field goal attempts (.471), but his only weakness showed up from three-point range (2 of 16, .125). However, he got to the line an average of 10.8 times per game to make 46 of 54 free throws (.852).
Not a bad week's work.