Just like the UConn women have to rely on Maya Moore, the UConn Huskies men’s basketball team is going to need Kemba Walker to do what Maya does. With two young teams, they will both be expected to lead. And just like Maya did on Tuesday night, Walker did it on Wednesday night.
Well Walker showed his young Huskies teammates exactly what to do as he scored a career-high 42 points in UConn’s 89-73 win over the Vermont Catamounts in front of 10,216 at the XL Center in Hartford, CT.
With the win, the Huskies improve to 2-0 on the young season. The Catamounts fall to 1-1.
Walker’s previous career-high was 29 points. His career-high 42 points tied an XL Center record that Cliff Robinson set back in 1987. He also added eight rebounds and three assists.
Freshman Roscoe Smith came off the bench to score 15 points while Alex Oriakhi had 11 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots. Shabazz Napier added five steals to go along with his seven points.
Evan Fjeld, who hit 6-of-8 three-pointers, led the Catamounts with a career-high 26 points. Matt Glass added 24 points and pulled down five boards. Brian Voelkel led Vermont with six rebounds.
Vermont quieted the XL Center crowd at the beginning of the game with a 9-2 run. But Walker scored five of UConn’s next seven points to tie the game at 9-9. UConn’s first half lead would get as high as six points at 29-23.
But they would score one field goal the rest of the first half as Vermont closed out the first half on a 13-4 run to take a 36-33 lead into the locker room.
UConn would start the second half on a 6-2 run to take a one point lead at 39-38 on two Walker free throws. From there, the Catamounts would only be able to tie the game up, the last time at 43-43. The Huskies would use a 13-4 run to push their lead to nine. Vermont would get no closer than six points as UConn would use a 21-7 run to put the game away.
As we already know, the Huskies are young and it showed at times. Calhoun wasn’t as kind as he was in the first game as if someone made a mistake, he immediately pulled them from the game and lectured them.
But with any young team this will happen. The only thing we can hope for as fans is that they learn and grow their games from this. The one thing I do like though is they are a team. They are not a group of individuals. That bodes well for the future for this team.
The Huskies are now off to Maui as they’ll be playing in the EA Sports Maui Invitational over the Thanksgiving break. First up for UConn is Wichita State on Monday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The winner of that game will take on the winner of the Michigan State/Chaminade game with the losers meeting in the consolation round.
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Notes and musings:
Here are some quotes from UConn head coach Jim Calhoun, Kemba Walker, Alex Oriakhi, Roscoe Smith and Vermont head coach Mike Lonergan.
The starters for the Huskies were Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, Tyler Olander and Alex Oriakhi.
UConn is now 46-8 against Vermont.
UConn shot 47.9% (34-of-71) from the floor while the Catamounts shot 47.4% (27-of-57).
The Huskies had 13 assists on their 34 made baskets.
UConn shot 33.3% (7-of-21) from beyond the three-point line while Vermont shot 58.3% (7-of-12).
The Huskies shot 73.7% (14-of-19) from the free throw line. Considering it is UConn we are talking about that’s not too bad. It’ll need to improve as the season goes along.
UConn won the battle of the boards 44-30 and outscored Vermont 42-26 in the paint.
The Huskies held a 19-5 advantage on second-chance points.
UConn outscored the Catamounts 25-15 on the fast break.
The Huskies forced 19 Vermont turnovers into 24 points. UConn had 15 points turned into 16 points by the Catamounts.
Photo credit: AP Photo