Walker carries UConn past CincyMar 20, 2011 - 6:14 AM Connecticut advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 69-58 victory over Cincinnati on Saturday.
Jeremy Lamb added 14 points for the third-seeded Huskies (28-9), who advanced to play No. 2 seed San Diego State in the West Region semifinals in Anaheim next week.
The Aztecs improved to an eye-opening 34-2 by holding off Temple in double- overtime earlier on Saturday.
"They're extremely athletic. They have a big team, a great team. But we've got a great coaching staff here and we're just going to do what they say," Walker said of Connecticut's next opponent.
Rashad Bishop had 22 points and Yancy Gates scored 11 to lead sixth-seeded Cincinnati (26-9), but the Bearcats' first NCAA Tournament appearance in six years ended at the hands of a fellow Big East team.
Cincinnati and Connecticut were two of an NCAAs-record 11 Big East teams in the field this year.
Playing on the same Verizon Center hardwood earlier Saturday, the conference's top seed in the bracket, No. 1 Pittsburgh, was knocked out of the Southeast Region by Butler on a last-second free throw. In a controversial ending, two fouls were called -- one on each team -- in the final 1.4 seconds of that game.
The Huskies, meanwhile, continued to roll.
"Hopefully they can carry the Big East banner and go out west and win a couple games and get to the Final Four," said Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin. "(But) it's tough for everybody right now. So our locker room is pretty despondent, as you can imagine."
Before they beat upset-minded Bucknell by 29 points on Thursday, improving to 16-1 in their tournament-openers since 1990, the Huskies famously won five games in five days last week to capture the Big East Tournament.
The Herculean feat left some wondering whether Jim Calhoun's team would have a letdown in the NCAAs.
Not so far.
Trying to earn a Final Four appearance for the fourth time in 13 years, the Huskies never trailed in the final 11:44 of the game after Lamb buried a three-pointer to make it 45-43.
"We were down eight in the first half, then they caught us in the second half and all of a sudden we just pulled away because you believe you're going to win," said Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun.
Cincinnati tied it on a pair of Cashmere Wright free throws, but Walker knocked down a pair of foul shots at the other end to spark a short 8-2 burst that created separation.
Walker didn't just contribute on offense.
In fact, the back-breaking play for Cincinnati may have come when Walker jumped a Bishop pass, dribbled up the right side and dished to Roscoe Smith for a fastbreak dunk that made it 60-52 with just 1:36 remaining.
The Bearcats were never closer than seven points the rest of the way.
The first half was tight, but Connecticut ended it on a 6-2 spurt for a 36-28 lead heading into the break...The Huskies are 46-27 in the NCAA Tournament, winning national titles in 1999 and 2004. They also made the Final Four in 2009...The Bearcats fell to 41-24 in the NCAA Tournament.
- CINCINNATI: 58
Mar 20 12:05 AM
- CINCINNATI: 28
Mar 19 10:45 PM
- CINCINNATI: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Mar 19 9:56 PM
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