Trae Young of Oklahoma University making his mark towards the NBA 2018 Draft

Trae Young just lift his team to win over arguably the best coached team and the most defensive oriented team in college basketball, the better part about it is its in the opponents home court.

Saturday Dec 16, 2017 before the game Oklahoma Sooners (7-1) vs #3 Wichita State Shockers (7-1) , Young was in a very hostile environment but right on the get go he ended the first half with 21 points and 5 assist. 

This is the highlight of this game;

and a little bonus a good team as well against Oregon Young scored 43 points on them

Young is also leading the nation is scoring at 28.8ppg and 3rd in assists 8.8, he also played good d on Landry Shamet the Senior PG for Wichita state who is a tough nut to crack but Young made it look as if he is the Senior held Shamet to 2 points.

You heard it here first am calling it top 5 pick in 2018 NBA Draft

UNC TARHEELS back at #1 after a few years of setbacks

Left to right first row – #5 Marcus Paige (SR) Coach- Roy Williams #13 Kanler Coker (JR)
At the back #42 Joel James (SR), Brice Johnson (SR)

Yes these four veterans of college basketball worked they way to where they are now, after a few years of setbacks the Tar Heels are back to #1. They are a surprise this season despite having only 1 5 star commit in the last 2 years who happens to be #44 Justin Jackson the nation’s #8th player from class of 2014. That starting 5 is like a thing of beauty whenever they need to step it up on both ends. 

UNC seems like they are headed to the final four again this year, all we have to do is wait and see despite losing to Louisville on Feb 1, 2016. I still like their chances because of the veteran squad that they have. 

Here is a replay of their best win of the season vs Rival Maryland 12 1, 2015

That time UNC was only ranked #9. 

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Introducing: Brandon Ingram Top 3 pick in 2016 NBA Draft. KD Jr?

Brandon Ingram 

This kid is a freak of Nature like KD, just 18 years old but this kid is already 6 foot 9 inches tall with a massive i say MASSIVE wing span of 7’3 and a standing reach of 9’1.5″. That is insane and what’s more insane is his recent game before Christmas where he dunked over a defender for the and 1, displaying his length and athleticism as well. 

Here is that NASTY dunk and the reaction of his team mate Chase Jeter says it all. 


Ingram is averaging 14 pts almost 6 rebounds per game and at least 1.5 blocks. 

Here is the wide array of skills displayed by Ingram that included the Nasty Jam over the defender from Georgia Southern.

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Introducing: Jaylen Brown top 5 pick in 2016 NBA Draft! From CAL Bears! with 27 pts ! and a nasty jam!

Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown just put on a show the other day but still lost against Richmond, he was the only one trying specially on the end game but fall short. He put up 27 points and showed that he is NBA ready. His shooting stroke wasn’t on display during this game but for you guys i would upload 2 more videos of this young stud. Please always say kahwi leonard like or stanley johnson jr, but i see Brown as a much controlled Latrell Sprewell. Brown is 6’7 with a windspan of a 7 footer. 

Brown has been part of Team USA and in his jr year he was touted as the nation’s best player. To me Brown can easily be top 3 this up coming draft. He has a lot to work on but his athleticism and body is already NBA Bound. 

Here is the highlight of his 27 point outburst:

another highlight:

cal highlight fan made

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Paul George new insane dunk video!

The 22 years old Paul George of the Indiana Pacers went to China to tour with Lebron James. Lebron James was of course the bigger star of the two so you would expect Lebron to hog all the spotlight during the tour, that maybe true until Paul George show some of the Chinese basketball fans what he is capable. Watch Paul George insane 360 behind the legs dunk, enough said, even Lebron Jamaes recognized Paul George amazing dunk. Watch Paul George 360 dunk! then i saw his dunk , now I’m a believer

Stags survive Cardinals, nail 15th straight victory

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MANILA—Pushed to the limit for the second time in three days, San Sebastian responded with steely resolve to stay unbeaten in the 87th NCAA basketball tournament.
The Stags, steadier down the stretch, survived the Mapua Cardinals, 72-69, Friday night for their 15th straight victory at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Calvin Abueva fired 26 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, but it was Ronald Pascual who helped seal the victory with two clutch free throws with four seconds remaining that allowed the Stags to match their longest winning streak set two seasons ago.

Carlo Lastimosa leaves St. Benilde

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MANILA—St. Benilde guard Carlo Lastimosa has quit the Blazers over what NCAA Management Committee representative Henry Atayde called as a disagreement between the player’s camp and the school over the academic policy on student athletes.
Atayde is hopeful that the issue can still be resolved, saying that Lastimosa’s surprising departure was a case of “miscommunication.”
“We are not closing the door on him yet,” Atayde said. “At this moment, emotions are still running high.”

Kiefer Ravena: The Phenom stays home

There is no more doubt that Kiefer Ravena will play for Ateneo.
Despite Kiefer announcing his decision a couple of months ago, some people were still left unconvinced until he donned the blue-and-white in competition.
Well those reservations were answered when Kiefer played as a legitimate Blue Eagle in the Fil-Oil Pre-Season Tournament last weekend. And he did not just play. He basically carried the team to its first win against defending NCAA champions San Beda Red Lions. With 25 points composed mostly of crucial baskets (who could forget the alley hoop to Greg Slaughter?), it’s safe to say Kiefer has broken into collegiate basketball.

The high school phenom
While other high school students were just hoping to pass college entrance tests, Kiefer was busy deciding which offer he would take.
Kiefer is the first freshman to make it straight to the Ateneo Blue Eaglet’s UAAP lineup. He led the team to three UAAP Juniors championships during his high school career. Aptly named Season 73’s Most Valuable Player, he averaged 20 points and 5.2 assists per game in his last year.
High school basketball phenomena happen rarely so when they do, talks on their college choice never end. Kiefer received offers from several schools. He even considered playing college basketball in the United States, but received no concrete offer from a Division I school because of his age.

Only 17-years-old, Kiefer is too young to go straight to college in the US. He would probably be sent back to fourth year high school if he was to play there.
“Mabubugbog ako masyado don. Sa States, students graduate from high school at 18 or 19. Eh yung mga kalaban mo dun athletic na, malalaki pa,” he says.
Then again, Kiefer doesn’t consider height a hindrance to playing abroad. Besides, he plays as a guard.
“If you work hard and you do your best lang, kahit gaano ka kaliit, maugustuhan ka naman ng coach,” he adds.
“Hindi nagpapa-presyo”
During the long – and for Ateneans, painful – wait on Kiefer’s official announcement, there have been mixed responses. Many blue die-hards kept their fingers crossed, hoping the six years Kiefer spent in Ateneo was enough to keep him loyal. After all, putting him in the Blue Eagles’ lineup would be the last nail towards a four-peat.
Yet there were others who felt like the whole thing’s been blown out of proportion. Sure he’s an exceptional basketball player, but the choice he is making is just that – a choice on which school he would study in and play for.
Why did he take months to pick a university anyway?
“Hindi naman sa nagpapa-presyo ako o nagpapatagal, pero it’s a life-changing decision. I really needed time to think about it personally. I hope I made some of them [critics] happy, since I went to Ateneo pa rin naman,” he explains.
Rumors also circulated that Kiefer would hold a press conference just to announce his decision.
“Impossible naman ata na magpapa-presscon para lang sa’kin. The focus isn’t just on me. There are a lot of other high school players. I announced my decision nga through Facebook lang, status pa,” he adds.
Contrary to what many people think, Kiefer didn’t receive anything special from Ateneo. He says that he gets what the other players get. The biggest factor on his choice to stay is loyalty. That simple. In fact, as early as last June, he was already pretty much set on going to Ateneo.
“I applied only to Ateneo. I didn’t take tests other than the ACET,” he says. “It’s everyone’s high school dream to play for Ateneo in college. Aside from the winning tradition, it’s the quality education that’s important. Okay din yung campus and teammates ko.”
Kiefer may have been the golden boy in high school, with extremely passionate fans who ask him to autograph their bodies. However, he’s ready to leave that part of his life behind and go to college.
“Sawa na ko sa mukha ng mga classmates ko kasi block section kami since second year,” he kids. “I’m going to miss my classmates, but I’m really excited to go to college. It’s like freedom. Palipat-lipat ka na ng classroom, tapos may freecuts. Exciting.”
Just like any other boy, he’s also thrilled to finally have female classmates, although that means less jokes and pranks. Speaking of girls, Kiefer keeps mum on whether there would be anyone special cheering him on as he dons the Blue and White next UAAP season.
“My parents! They’re the special-est,” he laughs. “Well I do hope someone would cheer for me. We’ll see.”
Still open to playing in the US
Although Kiefer is already set on playing for the Blue Eagles, he’s not closing the doors on playing abroad given that the offer comes from a reputable school.
“If it’s a top school in the US, siguro sila Coach Norman would allow me to go there. It’s also a chance to represent the school and the country. I can say that Ateneo molded me and trained me, and it’s gonna be good for them too,” he says. “Pero di ko muna iniisip yun kasi may UAAP pa.”
The Ateneo Blue Eagles are currently enjoying three consecutive crowns in the UAAP. With the team’s core intact and additional players coming in, a four-peat may not be too far off.
“Hindi lang ako makakasagot kung makaka-four-peat, kundi yung mga seniors. I’m just a rookie. The seniors have earned their minutes. They’ve earned their respect already. And that’s what I’ll be trying to earn – one practice, one day at a time,” he ends.
With the game he played in the Fil-Oil, he’s earned my respect already. — OMG, GMA News


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Texas A&M beats Notre Dame 76-70 for NCAA title

By DOUG FEINBERG, AP Basketball Writer
INDIANAPOLIS – This NCAA tournament had plenty of twists, turns and upsets even before the championship game. Gary Blair and Texas A&M delivered a thrilling ending.
This was the supposed to be the year Maya Moore’s Connecticut juggernaut won its third straight title or Stanford broke through or Tennessee got back to the top.

Instead, the Aggies rewrote the script in their first Final Four appearance. They made the 65-year-old Blair the oldest coach to win a national championship just one night after UConn’s 68-year-old Jim Calhoun did the same thing on the men’s side.
“We gave you that national championship game without the so-called powers of the world,” Blair said. “The two powers tonight were the two that earned it.”
Danielle Adams scored 22 of her 30 points in a dominating second half Tuesday night to help the Aggies beat Notre Dame 76-70 and bring the women’s title back to College Station and the former all-male military academy.
“I had a little voice in my head, ‘Don’t let this team down,'” said Adams, who became the school’s first All-American a week ago and was picked as the outstanding player of the tournament.
“Every time we’d get down, we were telling each other we’re not going to lose this game. We worked hard all season to prepare for this point. I had to do this for my teammates. They’ve been doing everything for me. I decided to take them on my back and just let them ride on my back.”
Tyra White added 18 points for A&M, including a huge 3-pointer as the shot clock buzzer sounded to put the Aggies up 73-68 with 1:07 left.
“That was the knife in my heart. That was the game,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said, bowing her head when the question was asked. “I thought that was just an amazing play on White’s part, and that play was the game.”
Adams and her teammates then staved off a final, frantic push by the Irish and their sensational young point guard, Skylar Diggins.
Now the Aggies (33-5) are national champs, newcomers who bullied their way through the tournament to win it all. Like Notre Dame, they vanquished their conference rival on the way, beating Baylor in the Dallas regional final after losing to the Lady Bears three times during the season.
Adams, who struggled badly against Baylor, was up to the task and then some against Notre Dame, scoring the second-most points ever in a championship game (Texas Tech’s Sheryl Swoopes had 47 against Ohio State in 1993).
Both teams reached the championship by knocking off two No. 1 seeds. Notre Dame ended an 0-20 skid against Tennessee, then swept past Connecticut in the semifinals — the first time one team has taken down those two women’s basketball icons in the same tournament. After A&M dumped Baylor, the Aggies knocked out Stanford in a bruising national semifinal.
It wound up being the first title game without a No. 1 seed since 1994 and only the second overall. It also was the first final without either Connecticut or Tennessee since Maryland beat Duke in overtime for the 2006 championship.
And it turned out to be a good one.
“I thought it was probably not so entertaining from my point of view,” McGraw said. “I think from the fan’s point of view, it was probably a pretty entertaining game.”
After a back-and-forth first half, and with the Aggies trailing 48-43 early in the second half, Adams simply took over — urged on by her coach to “quit shooting the jump shot.”
The 6-foot-1 center scored 10 of the next 13 points for the Aggies to give them a 56-53 lead midway through the second half. Texas A&M then extended the advantage to 64-57 behind the two Sydneys: Carter and Colson.
Notre Dame wouldn’t give up, battling back behind Diggins and Devereaux Peters. The Irish scored nine of the next 11 points to tie the game at 66 on Diggins’ jumper with 3:56 left.
Blair went right to Adams on the next two possessions and she delivered, hitting back-to-back layups and wearing out the Irish by hitting her first eight shots of the half and finishing 9 of 11.
Peters’ putback cut it to 70-68, but White hit her big 3 — her second game-saving shot of the tournament after her layup lifted the Aggies over Stanford on Sunday. Diggins had two free throws with 40.7 seconds left, and McGraw called her final timeout only to see her young star turn it over in front of the bench. White hit two free throws to seal the win.
Diggins finished with 23 points and Peters added 21 and 11 rebounds for Notre Dame (31-8). Diggins, fighting back tears, said the Irish couldn’t handle A&M’s pressure.
“We turned it over too much. I don’t know if it was nerves or what,” she said. “We just didn’t handle the pressure.”
Indeed, the night belonged to the Aggies in a game played just a few hours’ drive from the Notre Dame campus in South Bend.
The championship is the first in a major sport for Texas A&M since the football team won it all back in 1939. And it comes at a school that didn’t even admit women until 1963, and where school administrators didn’t always see the advantage of funding men’s and women’s sports equally when Title IX passed in 1972.
By 1994, A&M had earned its first NCAA tournament bid and immediately reached the regional semifinals. Still, things slowed until Blair arrived in 2003.
The man with the sharp tongue, quick wit and deep Southern drawl found himself at home recruiting Texas’ best players, and teaming with others in the athletic department to sell the school.
Winning the title will certainly help.
“Me and my team couldn’t let our seniors (Colson and Adams) leave without winning a national championship,” White said. “We had to send them off in the right way, and, baby, we sure did.”
The Aggies rode a relentless defense that didn’t allow more than 50 points in the tournament until Stanford scored 62 in the semifinals.
The Irish were trying to become the first team to capture the title in their home state since Stanford won in Los Angeles in 1992. There definitely was a home feel for Notre Dame with two-thirds of the 17,473 people in the arena wearing green and gold, hoping for the school’s first championship since 2001.
At least Diggins will be back next season.
“You lose that last game, you just get motivated to come back and work a little bit harder and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” McGraw said. “So I think it will be a really good motivator for us.”



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UConn sure can! Huskies ride defense to 3rd title

By EDDIE PELLS, AP National Writer
HOUSTON – The game was better suited for a dusty old gym than a state-of-the-art stadium — the offense and shooting more the stuff of a long-ago era than 2011.
The championship trophy? Well, that will look good in the case up at UConn, where a season of perseverance closed with an 11-game winning streak and a spirit-lifting win for coach Jim Calhoun, to say nothing of a crowning moment for a one-of-a-kind player named Kemba.

In a game that featured more grit than glamour and more brawn than beauty, Connecticut made Butler look like the underdog it really was Monday night, winning the NCAA title with an old-fashioned 53-41 beatdown of the Bulldogs.
Star guard Kemba Walker finished with 16 points for the Huskies (32-9), whose amazing late-season streak kept going right through the final buzzer. They won their 11th straight game — five at the Big East tournament and six in March Madness — since closing the regular season with a 9-9 conference record that foreshadowed none of this.
“Going into games, we always say, ‘If you miss a shot, it’s all right, but if you don’t play hard, it’s not good enough,'” Walker said.
Nothing to worry about in this one, then, one of the ugliest games in memory on the sport’s biggest stage.
UConn won this title with a defensive showing for the ages, holding Butler to 12-for-64 shooting. That’s 18.8 percent, the worst ever in a title game.
It was a game short on aesthetics but full of tough-nosed defense; an old-school game, the kind a coaching lifer like Calhoun had to love.
“From a purist standpoint, if you really like defense, take a clip of this game,” he said.
At age 68, he became the oldest coach to win the NCAA championship. He won his third title since 1999 and joined John Wooden, Adolph Rupp, Mike Krzyzewski and Bob Knight as the only coaches to get to the top three or more times.
Calhoun closed out a season marked by losing streaks, mistakes made by a young, growing roster and sullied by an NCAA scandal that wrapped up with the embarrassing conclusion that the coach failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance.
Exactly like the last game, none of this was easy, but the Huskies and their coach kept plugging away.
“I think we helped him overcome everything,” Walker said. “It’s not much to say. We won two of the biggest tournaments on the collegiate level. I think we made his year.”
And he made theirs.
Calhoun coaxed this win out of his team by accepting the reality that the rims were rejecting shots and looked about as wide as a pancake on a cold-shooting, defensive-minded night in cavernous Reliant Stadium. He did it by making his players pound the ball inside and insisting on the kind of defense that UConn played during this remarkable run, but which often got overshadowed by Walker’s theatrics.
UConn trailed 22-19 after a first half that came straight out of the ’40s.
“The halftime speech was rather interesting,” Calhoun said. “The adjustment was, we were going to out-will them and outwork them.”
And so they did.
Connecticut outscored Butler by an unthinkable 26-2 in the paint. The Bulldogs (28-10), in their second straight title game and hoping to put the closing chapter on the ultimate “Hoosiers” story, went a mind-numbing 13:26 in the second half making only one field goal.
During that time, a 25-19 lead turned into a 41-28 deficit. This for a team that never trailed Duke by more than six during last year’s epic final.
That time, Gordon Hayward’s desperation halfcourt heave at the buzzer bounced off the backboard and rim, barely missing — a breathtaking ending to a 61-59 loss. This time, UConn was celebrating before the clock hit zero, Calhoun pumping his fists and hugging an assistant while the Huskies ran to the sideline and soaked in the confetti.
“In my opinion, this one feels a little worse,” said Butler’s shut-down guard Ronald Nored. “Last year I was more shocked. This year is pretty tough.”
The version of “Hoosiers” with the happy ending is still available on DVD.
UConn, meanwhile, gets the real celebration.
“You see the tears on my face,” Walker said. “I have so much joy in me, it’s unreal. It’s surreal. I’m so happy right now.”
Joining Walker, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, in double figures were Jeremy Lamb with 12 points, including six during UConn’s pullaway run, and Alex Oriakhi with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Just as impressive were the stats UConn piled up on defense. Four steals and 10 blocks, including four each by Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith, and a total clampdown of Butler’s biggest stars, Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack. Howard went 1 for 13 and Mack went 4 for 15.
“It’s a brutal team to play against when you’re behind,” Butler coach Brad Stevens said. “It’s almost impossible.”
The numbers bore that out.
Butler’s 41 points were 10 points fewer than the worst showing in the shot-clock era in a championship game. (Michigan had 51 in a loss to Duke in 1992), and the 18.8 percent shooting broke a record that had stood since 1941. Butler’s 12 field goals were the second fewest in a championship game — three more than Oklahoma made way back in 1949. But clearly not enough.
Butler missed from outside early and inside late. During its drought in the second half, Howard, Garrett Butcher and Andrew Smith all missed shots from right under the basket. Indeed, there were times when it seemed like there was a lid up there.
“I don’t know I could tell you we shot as poorly as we did,” Howard said. “I knew it was pretty bad. But we kept thinking the shots were going to go in. That’s the mindset you have to have.”
While the Bulldogs and Stevens made history by doing it “The Butler Way” and bringing this school with 4,500 students within a win of the championship for two straight years, UConn played big-boy basketball in a big-boy league and suffered through some big-time problems.
Calhoun had to address the NCAA troubles more than once during what was supposed to be one of the best weekends of his life. He admitted he had his share of warts and said he has begrudgingly accepted the three-game suspension he’ll have to serve when the conference season starts next year.
On this night, though, he wasn’t thinking about his problems, only the exclusive fraternity he joined with Wooden, Rupp, Knight and Krzyzewski.
“My dad told me something a long time ago: You’re known by the company you keep,” Calhoun said. “That’s awfully sweet company.”
Nobody did it better this season than when it was all-or-nothing, one-and-done, than the Huskies.
Connecticut finished 14-0 in tournament games this year: 3-0 in the Maui Invitational, 5-0 (over five straight nights) at the Big East tournament, then 6-0 in the one that really counts, one of the most unpredictable versions of March Madness ever.
The tournament ended with 11th-seeded VCU in the Final Four and with eighth-seeded Butler joining the 1985 Villanova team as the highest seed to play in a championship game.
Villanova won that game by taking the air out of the ball and upsetting Georgetown.
Butler couldn’t pull off the same kind of upset.
“It’s very frustrating when you have your chances and your opportunities and you just let them slip away,” Mack said. “Just not being solid.”
It wasn’t perfect for Connecticut, either.
The Huskies only made 19 of 55 shots, and Walker’s 16 points came on 5-for-19 shooting. But through the ups and downs of the junior’s college career, he has shown there are lots of way to lead — with words in the locker room, by example in the weight room and by doing the little things like playing defense and grabbing rebounds. He had nine on this night and finished with 15 in two games, including the 56-55 win over Kentucky in the semifinals.
His biggest offensive highlight: The twisting, scooping layup he made with 10:15 left that put UConn ahead 39-28 — a double-digit lead that was essentially insurmountable in this kind of contest.
It was the final, successful chapter in a season defined by believing even when things weren’t going so great. This team lost its last two regular-season games and looked like it would spend a short time in the March Madness bracket. Instead, the Huskies were the team cutting down the last set of nets.
“This group has taken me on one of the great special journeys,” Calhoun said. “Better than I could possibly imagine.”


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Lamb goes out like a lion for UConn

By JOHN MARSHALL, AP Basketball Writer
HOUSTON – Jeremy Lamb wasn’t at the top of Jim Calhoun’s recruiting wish list. The Connecticut coach had his eye on another Lamb: Doron Lamb, along with his future Kentucky teammate, Brandon Knight.
The lanky guard with the long arms turned out to be a nice consolation prize.
A viable 1A option to Kemba Walker over the final month of the season, Lamb provided another big lift with his star teammate struggling to find his shot, scoring nine of his 12 points during a second-half surge that lifted UConn to a 53-41 victory over Butler on Monday night for its third national title.

“I think in the future, you’re going to see Jeremy Lamb be one of the best players in college basketball,” Calhoun said.
A 6-foot-5 guard with a 7-foot-4 wing span, Lamb spent the first part of the season getting called back to the bench, too inconsistent for Calhoun to keep him in games.
A meek lamb early in the season, he turned into a lion the final month, developing into the sidekick Walker needed to finish off his memorable season and give Calhoun another reason to forgive Lamb’s father for a shot he made 27 years ago.
“Early in the season, he didn’t have much confidence, and he just didn’t know his role on the team,” Walker said. “As things got tough for me, I told Jeremy, ‘You’re going to have to score.’ Once he realized he was going to get open shots, I was going to find him, he started to find the right spots and he started to make shots.”
A native of Norcross, Ga., Lamb wasn’t on anyone’s recruiting radar until he started putting up a few points for a new AAU team. Even then, it wasn’t like he was at the top of everyone’s wish list.
Calhoun always liked Lamb, and, after missing out on Knight and the other Lamb, signed him to play in Storrs. He didn’t get off to a very good start.
Lacking confidence and struggling with the increase in competition, Lamb fell in and out of Calhoun’s good graces, playing 37 minutes one game, 13 the next.
A good listener, Lamb took in his coach’s advice through the tough times and started to figure things out late in the season, building confidence with each game.
It came at a good time.
After dominating early in the season, Walker was getting worn down after having nearly every imaginable defense thrown at him.
The Huskies needed someone to pick up the slack, and Lamb was just the guy.
A 10.8-point scorer during the regular season, he boosted his average to 16.0 in the postseason. Lamb also developed into a clutch shooter, hitting the biggest shots down the stretch against Arizona in the West Regional final and carrying some of the load for Walker during the Final Four.
“Early in the season, I had to get adjusted to the speed and really the strength of the other players, and I didn’t do the little things, like set my man up to come off screens,” Lamb said. “As I started to get better, Kemba started trusting me with the ball, started finding me, I started getting plays run for me, and I was able to knock down shots.”
Lamb’s father, Rolando, sent Calhoun home with a last-second shot for VCU in the 1984 NCAA tournament, which the coach said he forgave after the slender freshman hit two big jumpers against Arizona.
Rolando Lamb certainly can rest easy now after his son helped Calhoun become the oldest coach to win a national title at 68.
The younger Lamb and the Huskies didn’t look like they were going to get there at first.
Struggling like everyone else on the floor, Lamb was a nonfactor in the NCAA title game’s lowest-scoring half in 65 years, going scoreless while taking just two shots. Walker wasn’t hitting, either, scoring seven points on 3-of-11 shooting.
When Walker still couldn’t find his shot early in the first half — he finished with 16 points on 5 of 19 overall — Lamb took over.
Much more aggressive at the start, Lamb hit a 3-pointer to give UConn the lead, then poked the ball away from for a steal that set up a breakaway dunk. Lamb followed with an alley-oop and dropped a bounce pass to Walker for a layup to put UConn up 39-28. The Huskies kept the lead at double-digits for most of the half after that, sending Butler home with another title-game loss and the national championship trophy back to Storrs.
“Starting the season, yeah, there were a lot of doubters,” said Lamb, who made 4 of 8 shots and had seven rebounds. “Right now, it feels real good.”


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Butler to play Connecticut for NCAA cage title


HOUSTON – Unheralded Butler and traditional power Connecticut will play for the collegiate national basketball championship after winning their semi-final games of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.

Butler, a tiny liberal arts school in Indianapolis from the little-known Horizon League, booked a spot in the title game for the second consecutive year by beating fellow upstart Virginia Commonwealth 70-62, while Connecticut edged Kentucky 56-55 in a match-up of two of the nation’s most successful programs.

The championship will be played on Monday.

Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun watched Butler’s 76-74 victory over top-seeded Pitt in the third round of the Southeast Regional and was impressed.

“I’ve seen what they have done to Pitt, which is one of the best teams in America,” he said. “We are going to have a heck of a challenge on Monday.”

With Connecticut (31-9) leading 54-52, Kentucky junior guard DeAndre Liggins misfired on a potentially game-winning three-pointer with five seconds remaining.

Two free throws by the Huskies’ Shabazz Napier hiked the lead to 56-52 with two seconds left before Kentucky’s Brandon Knight hit a three-pointer at the buzzer.

Connecticut’s Kemba Walker scored 18 points and had seven assists and six rebounds but the junior guard had an off-night shooting, hitting only six of 15 from the floor.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Walker said after the victory. “It is a little surreal right now but hopefully we can bring it (the title) back to Storrs.”

Kentucky freshman Knight who had an outstanding tournament, scored 17 points but shot a horrid six of 23, including three of 11 from beyond the arc.

In the earlier game, guard Shelvin Mack scored 24 points for Butler (28-9) on eight of 11 shooting from the floor, including all of the Bulldogs’ points during a key 10-4 run that turned a one-point lead into a 54-47 advantage with less than nine minutes left.

Forward Jamie Skeen paced VCU (28-12) with 27 points, while guard Bradford Burgess added 15.

“Two really good teams,” Butler coach Brad Stevens said. “VCU has a lot to proud of. They inspired a lot of people, including us.

“They played terrific all the way through. We were fortunate to pull that one out. We had guys making individual plays time and again that were crucial.”

Butler (28-9) won the game with a 48-32 advantage on the boards, and the ability to secure most of the loose balls, leading to a 19-6 advantage on second-chance points.

Matt Howard scored 17 points for Butler, hitting just three of 10 from the floor but cashing in at the line, where he connected on 11 of 12. The junior forward had six points in the final minute to secure the victory.

Zach Hahn scored eight straight points early in the second half for Butler to keep the Bulldogs close enough until Mack took over.

“Last year we didn’t get it done,” said Mack, who hit five of six from beyond the arc. “So that was in the back of our minds. My team mates did a great job of getting me the ball.”

Butler opened the season 14-9 — including 6-5 in the Horizon League — losing to relative lightweights Milwaukee (twice), Youngstown State and Valparaiso.

But the Bulldogs turned their campaign around and have now won 14 successive games.

VCU (28-12) had to beat Southern California in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament just to make it in to the main draw. They then upset Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and Southwest Division top seed Kansas to reach their first Final Four.

We’re just a big family,” said Skeen, a 6-foot-9 (2.09m) senior. “This whole season was great. It was a great run. We made history. We kept making history. We went deep into the tournament and we did what everybody said we couldn’t do.”

Butler lost the title game to Duke 61-59 last year when a potential game-winning 50-footer by Gordon Hayward smacked the backboard and glanced off the rim at the buzzer.

Hayward, who was a sophomore, jumped to the NBA and the most people believed he took with him the Bulldogs’ chances of retuning to the national stage.




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No underdogs needed in Final Four

By DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA – Leave the bracket-busting unpredictability to the men’s tournament. In the women Final Four, it’s a dose of March Mildness.
Connecticut, Stanford, Notre Dame and Texas A&M, two No. 1 seeds and two No. 2s, will be in Indianapolis on Sunday for the national semifinals.

The double-digit seeds don’t rule here — just the double-digit wins. The Huskies, Irish, the Cardinal and the Aggies all won their regional final games by at least 10 points, sucking the drama out of the most meaningful games of the season.
In one game in Indianapolis, the top-seeded Huskies (36-1) have a third straight national championship in sight when they play second-seeded Notre Dame (30-7). The Big East teams already played three times this season, UConn winning each time.
In another game, No. 1-seed Stanford (33-2) makes its fourth straight Final Four and plays second-seeded Texas A&M (31-5).
The winners play Tuesday for the national championship.
The Huskies made their fourth straight Final Four after cruising to a 75-40 win Tuesday night against Duke. Maya Moore, only the second four-time All-American, expects to leave the Huskies with a third straight national title.
“One thing is the absolute truth, there’s only one team playing right now that knows how to win a national championship,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “Only a couple kids playing next weekend know how to win a national championship and I’m fortunate to have them on my team.”
In UConn’s way is a Notre Dame team that will have the home-state advantage, but not much else. The Irish are 0-3 this season against their Big East antagonist: losing 79-76 on Jan. 8; 78-57 on Feb. 19; and 73-64 in the conference tournament on March 8.
“You would love to be playing somebody that’s not in your conference, but, at the same time, there’s going to be a Big East team playing for the national championship next Tuesday night and that’s pretty cool,” Auriemma said.
The Huskies are two victories away from winning an eighth overall championship to match Tennessee’s record. It would also match the title run that the Huskies had from 2002-04 and the one that the Lady Vols achieved from 1996-98.
Notre Dame was making its first trip to the Final Four since 2001, when Muffet McGraw’s team won it all. In that season, the Irish lost to Connecticut in the Big East tournament championship game before beating UConn in the national semifinals.
“I think it’s just another example of how exceptionally strong our conference is,” McGraw said Tuesday. “Connecticut is a tremendous team and, of course, we’re both very familiar with one another from our three games earlier this season. It should be another competitive and exciting matchup and we’ll be working hard in practice this weekend to get ready for Sunday night’s game in Indianapolis.”
Perhaps the Irish can take some inspiration from the Aggies, who proved a lengthy losing streak against one team isn’t fatal in the NCAA tournament. Texas A&M lost eight straight against Baylor, including three this season, before pulling off the 58-46 win on Tuesday and advance to the first Final Four in team history.
“We’re coming in as a two-seed, a very good two-seed that could’ve been a one-seed. We’re coming in with a lot of ammunition,” Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said.
For Stanford’s Jeanette Pohlen and Kayla Pedersen, they’ve reached the Final Four in every season of their four-year careers, a run that began by winning the 2008 Spokane Regional final behind Candice Wiggins. The Cardinal have won 27 straight games to match the longest winning streak in school history.
Notre Dame, only 140 miles north of Indianapolis, should have Conseco Fieldhouse colored in green. But Notre Dame’s win denied the Final Four a now-rare matchup in the marquee — and nasty — Tennessee-UConn rivalry.
The two storied programs haven’t played since 2007. That’s fine with Auriemma.
“We’re playing who we’re supposed to be playing,” Auriemma said. “Why? Why would I miss it? I don’t miss it all. If Maya was supposed to play them we would have played them. … The object of coming to Connecticut is to play against the best teams in the country and Maya’s done that.”
She has at least one more ahead.


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Fredette leads AP All-America team

By JIM O’CONNELL, AP Basketball Writer
Seniors dominated The Associated Press All-America team for the first time in five years.

Jimmer Fredette of BYU, Nolan Smith of Duke and JaJuan Johnson of Purdue, all seniors, were joined on the team Monday by junior Kemba Walker of Connecticut and freshman Jared Sullinger of Ohio State.
It’s the most seniors since four made the 2006 team.
Fredette led the nation in scoring at 28.5 points per game while shooting 40.4 percent from 3-point range, a number more impressive because of the shots he lets fly from well behind the line.
He received all but one vote from the 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25. The voting was done before the NCAA tournament.
Fredette became one of the most popular players in recent memory as teams that lost to BYU were “jimmered.”
“I think that it’s a great accomplishment. Unbelievable,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “It shows how good his work ethic is. He’s a player who has worked his way into an All-American. What he’s meant to our program over the last four years — it’s really kind of immeasurable.”
He is BYU’s first All-America since Danny Ainge in 1981.
“If you go out and play your game and have confidence in yourself, you can accomplish great things,” Fredette said. “That’s what I’ve always said in my head, and it’s worked out.”
Smith, who received 61 votes, averaged 21.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists in leading the Blue Devils to the top of the polls for 10 weeks this season. He assumed most of the ball-handling for Duke after star freshman Kyrie Irving went down early in the season with a toe injury and was responsible for defending the other team’s top perimeter player.
“It’s been a long process for me, just getting better each year and improving,” Smith said. “That’s something I hope to share with younger kids coming up. If you put the time in and get better and better and then by the time your senior year hits, you’ll start to accomplish some of those individual goals, and that’s something that I’ve done.”
Smith is the fifth Duke player to be an All-America since 2000; two of them — Jason Williams and J.J. Redick — were selected twice.
Sullinger burst onto to the national scene by averaging 17.2 points and 10.1 rebounds while shooting 53.6 percent. The 6-foot-9 Sullinger, the seventh freshman All-America over the last five years, received 58 votes.
“I felt he was going to have a great impact not just on our program but on college basketball. The productivity he’s had throughout the course of the season has really been incredible,” Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said. “He so much fun to coach. As I’ve said, if I was starting a team, I’d select him to be our first player.”
Walker had a strong start to the season and then capped it with an incredible performance in leading the Huskies to five wins in as many days to win the Big East tournament. He averaged 23.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists and was the leader of one of the youngest teams in the country.
“It feels good, especially because I wasn’t a preseason All-American,” said Walker, who received 51 votes. “I just wanted to come into the season and try to win as many games as we could. From winning, it really helped me be a better player and just get more recognition.”
Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said the 6-1 Walker, Connecticut’s first All-America since Emeka Okafor in 2004, was “without a doubt the most important player to his team this season. I can’t imagine where we would be without him.”
The 6-10 Johnson was Purdue’s inside presence, averaging 20.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. He was the first Boilermaker chosen to the first team since Glenn Robinson in 1994. Johnson returned to Purdue after considering leaving for the NBA.
“Your senior year, you don’t want to leave anything out there, and I definitely have no regrets. It worked out,” he said. “The only thing I wanted to do that we didn’t get done was go to the Final Four. Other than that, we got it all done.”
Marcus Morris of Kansas led the second team and was joined by Derrick Williams of Arizona, Ben Hansbrough of Notre Dame, Jordan Taylor of Wisconsin and Kawhi Leonard of San Diego State.
Fredette and Johnson were both on the preseason All-America team, along with Kyle Singler of Duke, Jacob Pullen of Kansas State and Harrison Barnes of North Carolina.


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First Four to Final Four: VCU stuns Kansas 71-61

By PAUL J. WEBER, Associated Press
SAN ANTONIO – Move over, Butler. Virginia Commonwealth is crashing the Final Four.
Two weeks ago, the 11th-seeded Rams so doubted they would get a NCAA tournament invite that they watched Cartoon Network and went out for burgers instead of watching the selection show. Now, all of America will be watching them in the Final Four.

The 11th-seeded Rams are heading to Houston, and final No. 1 seed Kansas is heading home after the biggest March upset in years.
VCU stunned the Jayhawks 71-61 on Sunday, becoming just the third 11th seed to make the Final Four. The Jayhawks had been the last top seed standing, but what looked like an easy path to the final weekend ended in a stunning collapse.
Eighth-seeded Butler, you’re promoted to a favorite next week. VCU is the trendy underdog pick this year.
“Once again we felt like nobody really thought we could win going into this game,” said VCU coach Shaka Smart, the budding star of the tournament. “Our guys have done a phenomenal job of putting all the doubters aside, all the people that didn’t believe in us, and going out to do their job.”
VCU guard Joey Rodriguez counted one of Kansas’ vaunted Morris twins — Marcus or Markieff — as one of those many doubters. During a pregame captains meeting with officials, Rodriguez said one of the brothers offered him some parting words: “The run ends here.”
“We’ll see,” Rodriguez shot back.
The Jayhawks saw all right.
VCU players, hoisting their Southwest regional champion trophy, poured into the temporary bleachers where VCU’s widely outnumbered fans sat in an Alamodome that was otherwise colored in Kansas blue and white.
VCU had sold out its allotment of 1,000 tickets in San Antonio after advancing farther than any Rams team in school history. The weekend before in Chicago, VCU had so many leftovers that Purdue fans scooped them up.
Jamie Skeen led VCU with 26 points, and as the final seconds ticked down, heaved the ball from the free throw line into the stands behind the opposite backboard. His teammates on the bench, who spent the final minutes with locked arms to hold each other back, finally spilled out onto the court, grinning ear to ear.
Kansas players walked slowly off the court. Several, including Markieff Morris, cried.
“Probably the best game they played ever,” Markieff said. “Probably the best game ever as a school tonight. We let them. We let them beat us.”
Smart was guided from one interview to another wearing the cut-down net around his neck. The cheers for VCU were only interrupted for guard Brandon Rozzell, who stood at midcourt as the crown serenaded him with an impromptu “Happy Birthday.”
The celebration even carried to other arenas. In Newark, N.J., where Kentucky was playing North Carolina, the crowd erupted when the public address announcer broadcast the final score from Texas.
“Anything is possible,” he told the arena.
It’s George Mason all over again, and VCU had an even tougher Final Four path than their tiny conference brethren in 2006.
The Rams needed five wins to go from First Four to Final Four. Along the way, they toppled the Pac-10’s Southern California, the Big East’s Georgetown, the Big 10’s Purdue, the ACC’s Florida State and now the Big 12’s Kansas.
They’ll pick on someone their own size next: Butler.
The Jayhawks? All they did was bully smaller teams to get this far. Kansas never apologized for coasting through a favorable bracket that served up schools seeded 16th (Boston University), ninth (Illinois) and 12th (Richmond).
None of those games tested the Jayhawks, who had been ranked No. 1 this season and had won 11 in row. Then VCU came out and showed it wasn’t just another pushover.
The Jayhawks spent the first half not knowing what hit them.

Kansas (36-3) hadn’t trailed by more than two points the entire tournament. With five minutes left in the first half, the Jayhawks trailed by 17.
Marcus Morris had 20 points and 16 rebounds, and his brother had 13 and 12. They played in disbelief as VCU, which ousted Florida State on 3-pointers on Friday night, used the long ball to bury the Jayhawks early this time.
The Rams hit 9 of their 12 3-pointers in the first half. Kansas trailed 41-27 at halftime and closed the lead to 46-44 with 13:11 left, but a 10-2 VCU run put the Jayhawks right back where they started.
Smart, the 33-year-old whose enigmatic personality has made him a breakout star, was so animated shuffling in front of his bench that officials shooed him back. Another official later served Smart his first technical all season.
Smart said he used that moment as a motivator — though he had to clean up his language first.

“It was basically forget the refs, forget Kansas, this is all about us,” Smart said. “We got to do what we got to do.”
VCU (28-11) is the third 11th seed to crack the Final Four. The last was George Mason in 2006, when that Colonial Athletic Association school stunned Connecticut in its regional final. LSU made it in 1986.
The Rams’ upset guaranteed a Final Four without a No. 1 seed.
Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Duke didn’t even last to the regional finals. Two traditional basketball powers, Arizona and Kentucky, and defending runner-up Butler took care of that.
On Saturday, Smart quoted a line from “Dumb and Dumber” to explain how he felt about his team: “So you’re saying we’ve got a chance?” A day later, he leaned on another old comedy to sum up the Ram’s unlikely run.
“Ever seen the movie ‘Major League?'” Skeen told reporters. “I can’t say exactly what the guy says. But they get in some situations, and there’s only one thing left to do.
“Win the whole blank thing.”


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Kentucky beats North Carolina 76-69 in East final

By WILL GRAVES, AP Sports Writer
NEWARK, N.J. – Kentucky spent 13 straight springs watching other schools play in the Final Four, a destination college basketball’s winningest program considers its birthright.
At most places, that’s hardly a drought.

In the Bluegrass, it’s a lifetime.
Now coach John Calipari and the Wildcats are two wins away from a national title. Finally.
Brandon Knight scored 22 points and fourth-seeded Kentucky advanced to the Final Four for the first time since their 1998 national title with a 76-69 win over second-seeded North Carolina on Sunday in the East Regional final.
“We got Kentucky back,” senior center Josh Harrellson said. “A lot of people doubted us. A lot of people really didn’t think we’d be the team we are. We really pulled it together as a team, and we’re back now.”
The Wildcats (29-8) will play Connecticut in Houston on Saturday night after turning back a late surge by the Tar Heels (27-10), who erased an 11-point deficit before running out of gas in the final 2 minutes.
DeAndre Liggins added 12 points for Kentucky, including a 3-pointer from the corner with 37 seconds remaining to help lift the Wildcats.
A season after falling a game short of the Final Four behind a roster filled with future NBA stars, the Wildcats are heading to the national semifinals for the 14th time behind Knight’s heady play and Calipari’s relentless energy.
He revitalized the flagging program a year ago behind superstar John Wall. In Calipari’s second season, he delivered on his promise to return Kentucky to glory.
Even if the guy who hired him wasn’t sure this would be the year Kentucky would end its 13-year drought between Final Fours.
“I thought he was building toward it, but I didn’t think this was the year,” Kentucky president Lee Todd said.

It didn’t look like it in January, when the Wildcats couldn’t win a close game. It didn’t look like it in February, when they couldn’t win on the road.
Calipari admitted it didn’t look that way two weeks ago, when his team was relegated to a fourth-seed despite convincingly winning the Southeastern Conference tournament. The powers that be put Kentucky in the same bracket as top overall seed Ohio State.
“I just thought the path to get here would be so ridiculous,” Calipari said, “that we would have to play out of our minds or people would have to get knocked off.”
Done and done.
Kentucky edged Ohio State on Friday, then gave the Final Four another blueblood program, though with a twist. There will be no No. 1 or No. 2 seeds playing the last weekend of the season since 1979, well before the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
The Wildcats have a pedigree and a roster full of highly touted freshmen. Yet they’re just as reliant on holdovers such as Liggins and Harrellson.
A seldom used reserve a year ago who has flourished in his final season, Harrellson again held his own against North Carolina’s bigger, more heralded front line, scoring 12 points and grabbing eight rebounds as Kentucky avenged a 75-73 loss to the Tar Heels in December in Chapel Hill.
It was a different story in New Jersey. And in March.
It’s a month Kentucky and North Carolina have owned for years. They’ve combined for 210 NCAA tournament victories — 105 each — but Sunday’s victory was the Wildcats’ first in three NCAA meetings with the Tar Heels.
Not that North Carolina coach Roy Williams was in the mood for a history lesson.
“I’m going to focus on what a wonderful group of kids and what a wonderful year it was,” he said. “But it still doesn’t take away the hurt that you feel today.”
Tyler Zeller led the Tar Heels with 21 points and nine rebounds and Harrison Barnes added 18 points, but North Carolina fell behind early and struggled to keep the hot-shooting Wildcats in check.
“No question, I thought we were going to pull it out,” Barnes said. “We’ve been through so many of these situations before. Losing didn’t enter my mind until the final horn sounded.”
Instead, it was Harrellson giving teammate Eloy Vargas a bear hug and Knight flexing at midcourt before gleefully cutting down the nets while Barnes and the Tar Heels trudged slowly off the floor.
It’s a scene Kentucky has longed for — a mission that began in earnest when the program lured John Calipari away from Memphis in 2009.

He promised he wasn’t “the grand poobah” the day he signed his eight-year, $31.65 million contract, but there’s little doubt who rules the Bluegrass now.
“You play at Kentucky to raise banners, and I’m happy we did this,” said Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart. “I’m happy for these guys, because no one gave them a chance.”
Calipari joins Rick Pitino as the only men’s basketball coaches to lead three different programs to the Final Four. Calipari’s previous visits at Massachusetts in 1996 and Memphis in 2008 were vacated by the NCAA for rules violations, but Calipari was not found liable in either instance.
Barnhart said Calipari wanted his Final Four appearances with the Wildcats “to stick.” Time will tell, though he’s already restored the luster to a program that’s slowly slipped off its perch over the last decade.
That lust for a championship banner is why Kentucky went after Calipari so aggressively, making him the highest paid coach in the country.
He came close a year ago, as the Wildcats missed their first 20 3-point attempts in a dismal 73-66 loss to West Virginia.
There were no such issues Sunday. Knight hit a 3-pointer barely 3 minutes in, and Kentucky kept right on shooting. Darius Miller, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb also drilled 3s of their own to give the Wildcats an early confidence boost. Kentucky made 12-of-22 3-pointers on Sunday, very different from the miserable 4-for-32 effort they put together last season.
But that was a different team, one Calipari likened to a bulldozer. This one is a little smaller, a little leaner. And ultimately, a little more successful.
When they weren’t knocking down jumpers from all over, they were getting their hands in passing lanes, pestering the bigger, longer Tar Heels into sloppy mistakes.
At one point Barnes found himself in an awkward position and tried to throw the ball off the backboard to himself. No dice. Harrellson, as he was almost all game, was right in position to gobble up the North Carolina mistake.
Kentucky roared into the halftime with a 38-30 lead then made it stand up as North Carolina failed to take advantage when the Wildcats grew skittish with the lead.
Kentucky wobbled, but it didn’t falter and instead rocketed to Houston on the heels of a 10-game winning streak.

No team has been to the Final Four more than North Carolina, and the Tar Heels were poised to add to their NCAA-record 18 appearances after mauling Marquette in the regional semifinals on Friday.
Instead, their resurgent season ended with a downtrodden Barnes glumly shaking hands as Kentucky players donned Final Four caps a few feet away.
The game mirrored much of the talented freshman’s season. He struggled early then caught fire late, scoring eight straight at one point as the Tar Heels clawed back into it.
Yet he faltered in the final minute, missing a 3-pointer after Liggins’ big shot then missing another one after Knight hit two free throws to give Kentucky a six-point lead.
Barnes refused to discuss whether he’ll return next year.
“All I know is the last two years I played basketball it ended with a championship, not a loss,” he said. “I never felt like this before.”
Neither have the Wildcats, all of whom where in grade school when Kentucky beat Utah in San Antonio for their seventh national title in 1998.
They don’t need to be reminded of the program’s rich history. It dangles from the rafters at Rupp Arena. Now they have a chance to add their own chapter to the legend.
This is a great tradition that we have to live up to,” Knight said. “It feels good that we were able to do this for Kentucky.”


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NCAA: UConn earns Final Four bid, edges Arizona 65-63

By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Jim Calhoun could scarcely watch when the most improbable postseason run of his coaching life at Connecticut came down to an open 3-point attempt by Arizona’s Jamelle Horne.
The shot clanged off the back rim. The clock hit zeros.

Nine victories in just 19 days. Calhoun has seen just about everything, but nothing like this — and now his Huskies will keep running all the way to Houston.
Kemba Walker scored 20 points, freshman Jeremy Lamb added 19 and UConn earned its second Final Four berth in three years, beating Arizona 65-63 Saturday to win the West regional.
After missing the NCAA tournament entirely last year, Calhoun’s tireless team is headed to the Huskies’ fourth Final Four, punctuated by an ebullient on-court celebration in a building packed with Arizona fans.
UConn simply hasn’t lost since a .500 Big East regular season, winning five games in five days at the conference tournament before this NCAA run. Walker claims he isn’t surprised by this sprint through the postseason, while Lamb has nothing to compare it to, leaving Calhoun alone in his grateful disbelief.
“Never did I imagine a team winning nine games in tournament play in 19 days,” Calhoun said. “These brothers, these young guys, have just given me a thrill beyond compare. Our march in the past nine games, I haven’t experienced anything like this.”
UConn also made the Final Four in 1999, 2004 and 2009 — all three times out of the West. In sweet redemption for a program and a veteran coach tarred by scandals over the past year, the Huskies will face the winner of North Carolina’s East regional final against Kentucky next Saturday.
Derrick Williams and Horne missed go-ahead 3-pointers in the final seconds for Arizona, allowing the third-seeded Huskies (30-9) to hang on after Lamb scored six key points down the stretch when Walker encouraged the Huskies to run plays for the fearless frosh.
“This is no time to be tired,” Walker said. “We’re trying to get as far as possible. We want to win this whole thing.”
Williams had 20 points while battling foul trouble for the fifth-seeded Wildcats (30-8), who led with 6 minutes to play. After Lamb pushed the Huskies ahead and Walker hit a jumper with 1:13 left, Lamont Jones and Horne then hit late 3-pointers for Arizona, but the Wildcats couldn’t convert two good looks in the final seconds.
“The second one, I thought it was definitely going in,” Lamb said. “When he missed it, I looked at the clock and saw zero-zero, and I just went, ‘Whooooo.’ It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had.”
The Huskies are the last team standing from the Big East’s 11 NCAA entrants. After going 9-9 in regular-season conference play, they’ve done more than even Calhoun might have expected just three weeks ago.
After the Wildcats missed their final two shots, Walker and Calhoun wrapped each other in a bear hug at center court after the buzzer as Emeka Okafor, Jake Voskuhl and other UConn alums celebrated on the court.
The two-time national champion coach has referred to his group as “an old-fashioned team,” a praise of their work ethic and resilience. But they also showed remarkable poise down the stretch in a building firmly in favor of the Wildcats.
A year after Arizona’s 25-year streak of NCAA tournament appearances ended, the Wildcats and second-year coach Sean Miller were one 3-pointer away from a return to the Final Four. Williams demolished Duke in the regional semifinals with a career-high 32 points, but three early fouls limited him to 7 minutes in the first half against UConn.
“I’ve never been prouder of a team, and I’ve never seen a team come so far as we did in a short period of time,” Miller said. “It will probably feel better in a few weeks than it does now.”
Jesse Perry scored 14 points for Arizona, which trailed 34-25 early in the second half before scoring nine straight points. The Wildcats reclaimed the lead with 14 1/2 minutes left on Williams’ layup, but UConn quickly scored seven consecutive points.
The Huskies led 50-41 until the Wildcats made a 12-2 run that included two rim-ripping dunks by Williams and the go-ahead slam by Perry with 7:17 left. With Honda Center rocking in Arizona red, Lamb smoothly put the Huskies ahead before following Alex Oriakhi’s putback layup with a steal and a dunk with 3:08 left for a seven-point lead.
UConn just keeps rolling in what has shaped up as a magnificent season after last year’s disappointing NIT trip. The Huskies roared through the league tournament with an unprecedented display of endurance at Madison Square Garden.
“I only feel tired after everything is over,” Walker said. “When I’m playing, it’s no problem. I’m good.”
Walker kept up his incredible scoring pace in the tournament, dropping 33 points on Cincinnati before equaling the highest-scoring tourney game in UConn history with 36 against San Diego State in the regional semis.
Jones did a fairly decent job slowing Walker, his good friend since the sixth grade in New York City. They played together for two years at Harlem’s Rice High School, although Walker claimed their history wouldn’t give Jones an advantage in their first head-to-head meeting since their AAU days.
Good thing Walker had Lamb, the lanky shooter who betrayed no inkling of nerves in the biggest game of his life.
“I definitely expected to play in the NCAA tournament and have a chance at the Final Four when I chose UConn,” Lamb said. “I just didn’t know it would happen this fast.”
Arizona won the Pac-10 regular-season title and made the top 10 for the first time in late February, but lost consecutive league games in Los Angeles before dropping the Pac-10 tourney finale to Washington on a buzzer-beater.
Last week, Arizona knocked off powerful Memphis and Texas before their 93-77 victory over the Blue Devils.
The West Coast crowd was solidly behind Arizona, with red-and-blue fans filling most of the lower bowl. Williams and the Wildcats repeatedly waved their arms before UConn’s possessions, riling up the noisy crowd.
“For us to be one of the last teams standing, a lot of people want to be in our shoes,” Jones said. “It’s unfortunate that it has to end here, but the feeling of playing here is something you’ll always remember.”

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