College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, March 10, 2011
Having just about done everything that could be expected from a player this season, including leading the NCAA in scoring for the first few weeks of the season and bringing a suspect Connecticut squad into national prominence, Kemba Walker put an exclamation point on his season as he calmly tossed in an 18-foot jumper as time expired to catapult the Huskies to a 76-74 quarterfinal win over Pitt in the Big East tournament.
With Panther defenders focused on limiting his penetration and scoring, Walker had a tough night shooting, going 8-for-22 from the field, but he nailed down 8 of 9 from the foul line and led the Huskies in scoring with 24 points. Walker also grabbed 5 boards and tossed five assists. Pittsburgh's Ashton Gibbs led all scorers with 27 points, hitting 6 of 7 from three-point range.
Connecticut advances to the semi-finals to face Syracuse, 79-73 winners over St. John's, at 7:00 pm Friday night. The Orange and Huskies met two years ago in the Big East tournament and produced a classic, 6-overtime game won by the Orange. Syracuse was the only Big East team to beat St. John's at Madison Square Garden, also having done so during the regular season.
In the other quarterfinal games, Notre Dame dispatched Cincinnati with ease, winning, 89-51, and Louisville took a seven point lead into half time and outscored Marquette by 20 in the second half for an 81-56 victory.
The Cardinals and Fighting Irish face off in the other semi-final match-up, following the SU-UConn tilt.
NOTABLE: Colorado seems to have secured their NCAA berth, dumping Kansas State for the third time this season while advancing to the semi-finals in the Big 12 with an 87-75 win. The Buffaloes face #2 Kansas in one semi-final at 7:00 pm ET. Texas and Texas A&M square off in the other semi-final game.
In the PAC-10 conference tourney, USC plays Arizona and Washington takes on Oregon in semi-final action Friday night.