Big East Championship Game 2011: UConn Ends Magical Run With 69-66 Win Over Louisville

Kemba Walker was his usual outstanding self in the Big East Tournament title game. With his help, UConn won five games in five days, taking home the championship.

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Big East Championship Game 2011, Louisville Vs. UConn Score: 69-66, Kemba Walker Does It Again

It wasn't a buzzer beater, but Kemba Walker still created the ultimate winner for UConn in the 2011 Big East Tournament championship. By a score of 69-66, the Huskies have defeated the Louisville Cardinals to win the Big East Tournament title. However, it was not without drama, and Louisville had a chance to win it late. Unbelievably, Walker was the man who almost threw it away.

With 33 seconds remaining, down a point, Walker drove and made a fantastic assist to Jeremy Horn, who made an easy dunk to put his team ahead. After Louisville missed a shot, they fouled Walker, who made two free throws to put his team up by three points. He almost threw it away, though, when he fouled Mike Marra as he was attempting a three point shot while Louisville was down three points. Marra only made two of three free throws, keeping Walker from being the goat, and after two more free throws, UConn went up 69-66, which would be the final score.

It wasn't a fantastic performance by Kemba Walker's standards, but in the end, he did enough on the offensive end to guide his team to the win. Connecticut's unsung hero of the day was Jeremy Horn, who was almost certainly the most consistent and balanced player for either team throughout the game.

With this win, UConn seal an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. They were probably a No. 5 or No. 6 seed going into the tournament, but this win could conceivably work them up to the No. 3 line.

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Big East Championship Game 2011, Louisville Vs. UConn: Kemba Walker, Preston Knowles Taking Over

The star guards for UConn and Louisville, Kemba Walker and Preston Knowles, are letting everyone in Madison Square Garden know that they are the stars late in the game, taking over for their respective teams. The 2011 Big East Championship looks like it's set to go down to the wire, with the two teams exchanging blows back and forth and neither team giving in. At the under four minute break, with 2:12 to go, UConn are holding onto a 63-62 lead.

Walker had his most impressive play of the game when he powered his way to the rim, drawing a foul and making his lay-up. He would go on to complete the three point play at the free throw line. That lay-up was the first field goal in 23 minutes for Walker when he scored it with 4:56 remaining in regulation time. Knowles has made Louisville's last two baskets, both on long range jump shots.

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Big East Championship Game 2011, Louisville Vs. UConn: Kemba Walker Goes 20 Minutes Without A Field Goal

It's possible that the fifth game in five days has caught up with Kemba Walker. The combination of his minutes over the last week and the pace that Louisville has pushed has essentially erased Walker's jump shooting ability, though he has not been completely without influence. Walker is working hard on defense, fighting for boards, and setting up his teammates, but he's still managed to go a full 20 minutes without scoring a field goal. The last time he drained a bucket was just before the under eight minute timeout in the first half. The under eight stoppage is here in the second, and still no buckets from Walker. With 7:52 left to play, UConn are clinging to a 54-52 lead.

Preston Knowles and Peyton Siva have both come back into the game after picking up their slight nagging injuries, and both of them have managed to get themselves into double digits scoring. Their health and offensive play will be huge for Louisville down the stretch.

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Big East Championship Game 2011, Louisville Vs. UConn: With 12 To Go, The Game Gets Frenetic And Sloppy

With 12 minutes to go in the 2011 Big East Championship game, the game has gotten truly nasty. Both Preston Knowles and Peyton Siva appear to have picked up injuries for Louisville, and both are sitting on the bench coming out of the under 12 minute break, which occurred at exactly 11:59. Knowles picked up his injury in an innocent scramble, while Siva was injured on a borderline block-charge engagement with Kemba Walker that went Walker's way, perhaps unfairly so. Louisville are going to struggle to content with UConn without those two players, without a doubt.

Walker has had some influence on the game, but it's obvious that the pace and physicality of the game has taken him out of his element a bit. He's not being allowed to set up jump shots in half court sets, as Louisville has succeeded in sucking UConn into their style of play. Still, despite that, UConn hold a 47-42 lead at the media break.

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Big East Championship Game 2011, Louisville Vs. UConn: Cardinals Start Second Half With Intensity

Both teams are sloppy and shooting poorly to start the second half of the 2011 Big East Championship game, but the intensity has certainly been ramped up, especially by Louisville. The Cardinals are doing to UConn exactly what they did last night against Notre Dame by pressuring UConn and upping the pace of the game to start the second half. This is exactly how Louisville got back into the game against Notre Dame, and they've taken the lead against UConn. It's 40-38 at the under 16 timeout, with 15:52 left on the clock.

UConn look like they're in serious danger of a collapse, and they're going to need Kemba Walker to step up soon. He's had a decent game, but not insane Kemba Walker-esque. For most players, even top scorers, today would be a slightly above average day. Walker is a different story, and he's failing to live up to expectations so far. The fact that 5-10 shooting and 10 points after 25 minutes isn't good enough is a testament to how amazing Walker has been this year.

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Big East Championship Game 2011, Louisville Vs. UConn Score: Huskies Lead 38-32 At Halftime

Kemba Walker has been the best player on the floor for either team in the 2011 Big East Championship game, but Jim Calhoun opted to manage his risk, benching Walker when he picked up his second personal foul with just over seven minutes remaining in the first half. UConn had a 12 point lead on Louisville at that point, but that lead was trimmed to six just before halftime. Preston Knowles, who had a terrible start to the first half, hit two three-point shots near the end of the half to bring his team back to within single digits of the Huskies.

UConn have been the much better shooting team so far, but they looked a bit lost without Walker on the floor. Louisville's tough work on the boards, along with their passing has allowed them to stay in the game, despite the fact that they were absolutely dominated while Kemba Walker was on the floor. It will be key at the start of the third half for Walker to avoid picking up his third personal foul.

While UConn are shooting 53% from the floor, Jamal Cooms-McDaniel has been largely ineffective off the bench, taking a number of ill-advised shots. With Walker on the bench, he seemed to see himself as the main scoring option, which didn't exactly work out.

With Walker returning to the floor, UConn will look to get off to a fast start in the second half. If Louisville want to continue chipping away at UConn's lead and take control of the game, they will have to improve their outside shooting significantly.

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Big East Championship Game 2011, Louisville Vs. UConn: Cardinals Ice Cold From Three

The Louisville Cardinals are relying a lot on the three ball during the first half of the Big East Tournament Championship, but it's not exactly working too well. At the under 12 minute media timeout, the Cardinals are 1-9 from three point land, with Preston Knowles the main offender when it comes to poor shooting. He scored 20 points last night against Notre Dame, but he's 0-4 total and 0-3 from behind the arc to start this game. Louisville only attempted 23 shots from three in an overtime game against Notre Dame, so this rate of outside shooting is probably not very much to the liking of Rick Pitino.

Meanwhile, Kemba Walker and Co. are heating up. After a slightly sluggish start, they've looked spectacular since the under 16 timeout. Walker has ten points, shooting 5-7. The last basket of those was an emphatic dunk on a breakaway.

After a beginning to the game where the officials were calling a tight game, they loosened up considerably. Amazingly, the under 12 timeout came at 8:02 remaining in the half, a testament to the open nature of the game. Right now, the score is 27-15 in favor of Connecticut.

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Big East Championship Game 2011, Louisville Vs. UConn: Terrence Jennings In Early Foul Trouble

The foul trouble of Terrence Jennings is the early story from Madison Square Garden, as the Louisville Cardinals forward has been forced out of the game with two fouls in under three minutes. In just 26 minutes, Jennings put up 16 points and five rebounds against Notre Dame last night, and his absence could allow UConn to get some inside position on offense and win rebounding battles.

Kemba Walker has been slightly quiet early, but he did hit one shot, shaking his defender to open himself up for an 18 foot jump shot. UConn's most aggressive player in the opening minutes, shooting two for three and scoring four points thanks to his aggressive drives to the basket.

The officials are calling an extremely tight game at the start, and the players will have to adjust accordingly to avoid getting into the bonus early and getting into foul trouble like Terrence Jennings did. 

The score is 9-8 in favor of Louisville at the under 16 minute media timeout, with 15:44 remaining in the first half.

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Big East Championship Game 2011: Louisville Vs. UConn, A Look At The Insanity Of Kemba Walker

If you didn't know, Kemba Walker is a really amazing basketball player. Sure, a 6'1" two-guard probably doesn't have a massive future in the NBA, but let's forget about that. What matters is now, and what's now is the 2011 Big East Tournament. Tonight, Walker's UConn Huskies contest the championship game against the Louisville Cardinals, and their road here - especially Walker's - has been remarkable.

Kemba Walker's full-season statistics are pretty impressive in and of themselves, but his stats across the last four games have been absolutely jaw-dropping, especially considering that he's played four times in four nights. Oh, yeah, that other thing. If you didn't know, this will be UConn's fifth game in five nights.

Over his four games in four straight nights, Walker is averaging 27.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game. Walker is also only averaging a turnover every 12 minutes played, which is absolutely bonkers for someone who handles the ball as much as he does. Add in his buzzer beater to beat Pittsburgh and his six steals last night against Syracuse and you have one of the craziest statistical runs by a player that we've ever seen in college basketball. He's making Eric Devendorf look super weak.

If Walker can put up another 25/7/4 kind of line for the fifth straight night, it might be "tell your grandkids about this moment" kind of stuff, if he's not already on that level. 33 points and 12 rebounds on the fourth straight night of playing might be even more impressive than Jimmer Fredette's 52 point game.

And to think, when he dominated the Maui Invitational, most of us thought it was a fluke.

For more, be sure to check out SB Nation's Louisville blog, Card Chronicle, and our UConn blog, the appropriately-named UConn Blog.

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Big East Championship Game 2011, Louisville Vs. UConn: Kemba Walker, Huskies Aim For Improbable Title

At the end of the regular season, the UConn Huskies looked as though they were running on fumes. On Saturday night (9 p.m., ESPN), though, Connecticut will find itself in the Big East championship game against Louisville, and Kemba Walker and company will have their shot at redemption.

UConn made it here by beating three ranked opponents in as many days: first Georgetown, then Pitt, then Syracuse. Walker delivered a 33-point performance in Friday night's effort against the Orange, but he has struggled somewhat against the Cardinals. In UConn's two games this season against the Cardinals -- both of which they lost -- Kemba Walker shot 7-for-23 and 3-for-10.

Meanwhile, Louisville is entering on a high note. The Cardinals overcame a large deficit against Notre Dame on Friday night to avenge a prior overtime loss and reach Saturday's final. Louisville enters as the favorite, but the game may very well be decided by how effectively they're able to minimize Walker's impact.

For more, be sure to check out SB Nation's Louisville blog, Card Chronicle, and our UConn blog, the appropriately-named UConn Blog.

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