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Walker, UConn steamroll Kentucky

AP Basketball Writer

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — Kemba Walker scored 29 points and Connecticut beat a Top 10 team for the second straight day, knocking off No. 8 Kentucky with an 84-67 rout to win the Maui Invitational on Wednesday night.

Connecticut (5-0), the 2005 Maui champions, wore down second-ranked Michigan State in the semifinals and steamrolled the Wildcats with a massive run to close the first half.

Alex Oriakhi had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and the Huskies shot 57 percent against one of the nation’s best teams to leave paradise with a big trophy and bigger expectations.

The Wildcats (4-1) had no answer for UConn’s first-half run and fell farther behind instead of catching up in the second.

Terrence Jones had 24 points despite spending a good chunk of the first half on the bench, and Darius Miller added 15 for Kentucky, which shot 36 percent.

Walker was the difference from the start.

The tournament MVP almost toyed with the young Wildcats, flipping in runners, 3-pointers and layups to score 90 points in three games, three short of the record set by Chaminade’s George Gilmore in 1991.

And when the Wildcats tried to roar back to start the second half, Walker gave them a shhh! scoring on an acrobatic left-hander in the lane, smiling at the crowd as he ran back after a 3-pointer.

The title game had some extra juice to it, the mass of Kentucky blue louder than ever, UConn’s small-but-proud contingent tried to make itself heard by stomping, screaming, booing.

The players were on their game, too,

Jones delivered the first big blow, flying in for a slam over two UConn defenders. Oriakhi answered seconds later, soaring in for a two-handed alley-oop.

UConn kept it going the rest of the first half. The Wildcats didn’t.

Jones, after scoring Kentucky’s first 10 points, disappeared from the flow and the game, spending the final 9:01 on the half on the bench.

Coach John Calipari might have wanted to bench everyone the way the Wildcats were playing.

Stubbornly challenging UConn’s size inside, Kentucky kept coming away empty, hitting just nine of 30 shots in the first half.

And that was the good part.

Connecticut, led by the always-cool Walker, couldn’t seem to miss.

Hitting 3s, scoring in transition, powering inside — the Huskies seemed to do what they wanted whenever they wanted, going on 21-2 run to close the first half against a supposedly-better team.

Walker had 10 of his 17 points during the big run, capping it by unselfishly giving up a 3-pointer for a wide-open layup by Jamal Coombs-McDaniel. The Huskies hit 18 of 30 shots to lead 50-29.

Walker made sure Kentucky never stood a chance in the second half, sending a good chunk of the big blue fans for the exits with just over 3 minutes left, then holding the ball in the closing seconds as UConn’s fans chanted MVP!


Jones 6-11 8-9 24, Harrellson 0-1 0-0 0, Miller 6-14 1-3 15, Knight 3-15 0-1 6, Liggins 3-10 2-3 8, Poole Jr. 0-0 0-0 0, Hood 1-2 0-0 3, Lamb 2-5 0-0 5, Vargas 1-2 4-4 6. Totals 22-60 15-20 67.

Giffey 5-6 2-2 14, Oriakhi 7-10 4-6 18, Okwandu 0-1 0-0 0, Lamb 1-2 0-0 2, Walker 10-17 6-6 29, Beverly 0-1 0-0 0, Coombs-McDaniel 4-7 0-0 9, Olander 0-1 0-0 0, Napier 3-7 5-5 12, Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-52 17-19 84.
Halftime—Connecticut 50-29. 3-Point Goals—Kentucky 8-22 (Jones 4-4, Miller 2-5, Hood 1-1, Lamb 1-2, Liggins 0-2, Knight 0-8), Connecticut 7-12 (Walker 3-4, Giffey 2-3, Coombs-McDaniel 1-2, Napier 1-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Kentucky 29 (Harrellson, Vargas 6), Connecticut 32 (Oriakhi 11). Assists—Kentucky 9 (Knight 5), Connecticut 16 (Walker 6). Total Fouls—Kentucky 18, Connecticut 16. A—2,400.

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  1. Jim

    Veteran players allowed easy baskets by being out of position. The upper classmen played as bad or worse on D as the freshmen. Besides the defense, PG play was an issue. Knight had a bad night and when he sits with foul trouble, the play gets even worse.

  2. Nashville Cat

    I miss John Wall.

    That was ugly. I’m still proud of the boys, they played hard and made it farther than anyone was thinking they would. 4 games in that length of time is tough.

    One thing I’m not happy with it why we keep jacking up 3s when we are hitting. If that was our only stregth, fine. But this is as good of a driving and slashing team as i’ve seen. Yet Cal lets them brick 3s all day. It looked like the W Va game all over again.

    Kemba Walker is a stud.

    Cal needs to walk to to Darius Miller and slap him in the face before every tip off. He has the talent to fill in for Jones when he’s in foul trouble. I just cant figure this kid out.

    Vargas showed some life which is great. Hopefully he builds on this. Our 2 bigs had a respectable showing during the tournament.

  3. Bryan.M

    Sometimes learning the hard way is the best way. Maybe Cal wanted them to see what happens when they keep throwing bricks from long range. Now he can show them tape instead drawing on a chalkboard. It’s better now than late in the NCAA tournament. Bottom line though, Cal wants his team to win, and knows how to coach, so I’m sure this learning experience is going to pay off big.

    Oh yeah, here’s a quote from this article
    “The Wildcats (4-1) had no answer for UConns first-half run and fell farther behind instead of catching up in the second”. I watched this game, and felt we played them pretty even in the second half. In fact, we outscored them 38-34. Obviously that isn’t going to win the game after that horrible first half, but I feel that our guys never gave up, and I’m proud of them for that. I believe the team will be MUCH better for this loss. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

  4. Martyman

    LV & One and all,
    Happy Thanksgiving to the BBN!!! Now about that terrible game against UCONN. You have to give UCONN their props. They came out and smacked us right across the face and we did not have a response, or even a smart aleck response. Kemba Walker is a legit all american. Coach Calhoun should play Texas hold’em when he retires. The way he has held his hand in saying his team is a bevy of nothing, which we now see is a load of bunk. As for UK’s lackluster play, well it was bound to happen sooner or later. I am not going to single out any one player but, the team as a whole seem to just not be “with it”. Not playing with a purpose like the first 2 games. The officiating was also suspect, too. I think the team as young as they are just lost focus. Heck, it would be hard for me to stay focused being in Hawaii, Thanksgiving and all that scenery, too. They played 2 great games against tough opponents and now it is time to come on home boys. Welcome back home and Happy Thankgiving again….

  5. bigbluefans4uk.com

    The trip to Portland and Hawaii was a mixed bag. In Portland the team literally took apart a solid Portland team with its defense, but against Oklahoma, the team fiddled around and let a bad team stay close to the end. Oklahoma lost all 3 games in Maui, including a loss to host Chaminade. Then the team overcame Washington’s success in exposing this team’s primary weakness by getting Knight and Miller into early foul trouble, and but for an offensive explosion in the first 10 minutes, Washington would have used that foul trouble to bury the Cats. Then last night, there was no offensive explosion, and UConn built upon the weakness that Washington exposed and buried the Cats in the last 10 minutes of the first half.

    When I looked at this schedule, I figured that the Cats could go to Hawaii and return home 4-1, and posted that here and elsewhere. That would be satisfactory, I rationalized. However, this team is returning home 4-1 but the weakness of the thin roster, and poor post defense were exposed beyond my imaginings. I think the Cats are fortunate to be 4-1 instead of 3-2 today. I am hopeful that Cal can use this trip as the teaching opportunity that most expect he will. They have one game at Rupp to learn before going on the road to UNC and to Louisville to play a good Notre Dame team, both potential losses now.

  6. bigbluefans4uk.com

    This team must learn to play solid defense without giving up cheap fouls, and must learn to avoid all fouling out on the floor. They only have 8 players who are contributing anything of substance now, and 2 of them are giving everything they have to give, but that effort will fall short against most quality opponents remaining on the schedule.

  7. LindaS

    It seemed to me after Terrence got 2 quick fouls the air was let out of the balloon. There were times when it seemed like to me they just didn’t know what to do or where to go. I’m not going to mention any players by name, but several of them had an off night. The UConn defense just closed a door on them. As noted above, glad to have this loss now then later and Cal will get the boys back on track. They are so young and this will be a learning experience…yea, right…it still hurts! Everyone explained to me that we had a thin roster because Cal was saving up for next year. Scholarships are from year to year and not given for 4 years guarantee. Well, I would have gotten a couple more boys beside Jarrod and had them on the bench for situations such as this. Surely there was another 1 or 2 players who could have been recruited this year. Foul trouble from one boy and maybe an injury where one has to sit out the rest of the game or more and we are going to be up a creek without a paddle. I hope you know who can win his appeal, we need his body in the paint. With that said, I will still take this loss to anything that happened 2007-09 and the 4 years before that, the season is young. GO CATS! NEUTER THAMEL!

  8. J

    Darius Miller is soft. He needs to go ahead and transfer because he won’t be seeing much clock next year with Gilchrist coming in. Liggins hustles but he was burnt bad by not fighting through screens. Knight has no idea how to run this offense (or any for that matter at this level) because he’s a 2 guard. Terrance Jones is a man among boys and the offense should be run through him. He’s a good enough passer and ball handler to get that done. Harrellson’s only skill is shooting. Why Cal doesn’t use that skill in pick and roll situations amazes me. It’s Tubby-esque stubborness. Vargas tries hard and could get better but he’s just a body at this point. Lamb played scared and isn’t a PG.

    Did I miss anything? Nope. 4 million dollars should buy more than what I see from my living room. Imagine what experienced professionals see. I think we saw with the way Calhoun’s Huskies systematically picked us apart.

  9. Andy

    Its not the end of the world. Its just one game. These are freshman who have not competed this way before. Case in point the 2 returning starters for UCONN, walker and alex combined for half of their teams points. This will be a great learning tool for the kids. I would rather have the monkey off our back now rather than later. BK did not have the best tournament but he will bounce back. Lets hope we get Enes freed so opposing teams will have to work for every rebound. Miller needs to step up and take charge when Jones is out.

  10. gmoyers

    Happy Thanksgiving to all as well. One game doesn’t make or break a season. I think I would have been delighted with a 4-1 start before the year began. This team will learn and get better.

  11. Nashville Cat

    I agree Andy that this isnt the end of the world. But J makes some strong points. You do as well in that their offense was ran by their upperclassmen. Our upperclassmen took the night off for all practical purposes.

    But i think everyone can agree, Cal should and will use this to make the team get better. I just assume they were riding pretty high. Not cocky but they had not really been challanged. They now know what they have to work on.

    The only worry I had on knight when I found out we got him was that in high school he was a guy that shot 20 times or so a game. The times i watched him he jacked up 3’s like it was the playground. I really hope Cal addresses this, which i’m pretty sure he will since he is smarter than we are.

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