UConn day in Sports: Kemba carries UConn in 2011 Big East Tournament

Pictured: Kemba Walker from the Huskies' November, 2010 game vs UNH. Kemba was a dominant player in this season and was a huge contribution in helping UConn make it to the Big East Tournament in 2011. (File Photo/The Daily Campus) 

Kemba Walker and the 2010-2011 Huskies were able to do the seemingly impossible and win five games in five days to reach the NCAA tournament, which they would ultimately win. On March 9, 2011, the Huskies won their second round game of the Big East tournament over the Georgetown Hoyas by a score of 79-62.

After dispatching DePaul 97-71 in the first round game behind Walker’s 26 points, the Huskies had a date with their long time Big East Foe, the Hoyas. At the time, Georgetown was ranked No. 22 in the nation and the Huskies (ranked No. 21) were able stay alive and move to the third round behind Kemba’s 28 points. Despite being the higher ranked team in the polls, UConn dropped all the way to ninth in the Big East Tournament and had to participate in a play-in game before having the chance to play the eight seeded Hoyas.

Coming into the tournament, the Huskies had lost four of their last five games, as the win against Georgetown gave them two in a row and provided them with a much needed spark, propelling them into NCAA history. UConn was able to shut down the vaunted backcourt of the Hoyas as Georgetown was only 5 of 22 from 3-point range.

Helping Walker get the win was guard Jeremey Lamb who added 11 points and three steals. As a team, the Huskies shot 50 percent from the field, as Walker was 10-18 from the field and led the team in points, rebounds and assists.

Following the win against Georgetown, “Cardiac Kemba” was born the next day, when he hit his step back buzzer beater over the Pitt Panthers, sending the Huskies into the semifinals against Syracuse and now Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters. In the semifinals, the Huskies won by five points in overtime as Kemba Walker had 33 points and 12 rebounds. With their fifth game in five days, the Huskies were able to claim the Big East Championship over the Louisville Cardinals as Walker finished the tournament with 130 points in five games.

Walker and the Huskies went on to win the national championship as they beat Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs 53-41. On their six-game stretch in the tournament, they beat the likes of Atlanta Hawks big man Mike Muscala, Brooklyn Nets guard Sean Kilpatrick, MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard, top-five pick Derrick Williams and Phoenix Suns point guard Brandon Knight.

Although the game against Georgetown did not have highlights like the Pittsburgh game or the importance of the NCAA tournament, it was an elimination game that the Huskies were able to win during their 11 game winning streak and championship season.


Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at matthew.kren@uconn.edu.