Kemba Walker and UCONN Defeat the Spartans in Hawaii

Drew Augustana

 

Draymond Green had a good game, but in the end Kemba Walker was to good to be contained.  Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.
Draymond Green had a good game, but in the end Kemba Walker was to good to be contained. Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

Lahaina, Hawaii -- For Draymond Green, Tuesday was a day of highs and lows.

The junior forward was busy having one of his best games in the second round of the Maui Invitational against Connecticut. He finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds.

But with the game on the line and the ball in Green's hand, he was unable to produce.

Green missed three free throws late, including two straight when Michigan State trailed by two with 20 seconds to play.

The result was a 70-67 victory for Connecticut, avenging its loss to Michigan State in the 2009 Final Four.

"It hurts a lot," Green said of his missed free throws down the stretch. "They felt good, so there's nothing wrong with my mechanics. I'm going to live in the gym."

But Green has never been one to shy away from the pressure and he stood up and answered for his play after the game.

"It falls on my shoulders," he said. "The team was 15-for-20 and I missed four. It has nothing to do with the team, it falls on my shoulders."

The game was physical from the outset and Connecticut relied on its star guard, Kemba Walker. Walker scored a game-high 30 and hit what proved to be the game-winner with 53 seconds left in the game.

"We have Kemba Walker and Tom didn't," Calhoun said. "I really mean that. I've had some pretty good players in my career … Kemba is developing into not only a great player, but a great competitor. You can see the look and emotion in his eyes and the way he loves to play and compete."

Walker scored 31 on Monday against Wichita State and had 42 in the Huskies' last game before coming to Maui, an 89-73 win over Vermont.

"Right now I'm just getting open shots and making them," Walker said. "I'm running through the offense full speed and am fortunate to make shots. I worked on my shot all summer and it's paying off."

The Spartans had one last chance with Connecticut up 69-67, but Kalin Lucas drove to the hoop and tried to dish off to Durrell Summers. But Summers had cut for the hoop and ball sailed out of bounds.

After Connecticut made one free throw, Green heaved a shot from half-court that came up short.

"I'm disappointed in the way we finished," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "We're a veteran team and I thought we would finish a little better than we did. We missed some free throws and they got the rebounds."

Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun knows how important the win was for his team.

"Last year we were fortunate to beat some pretty good teams," he said. We beat Texas when they were No. 1, we beat West Virginia, we beat Villanova on the road -- not a comparison.

"This was just an absolute tremendous team win. Our young guys stepped up and played great defense and then recognized they have a pretty special guy offensively on the team.

"I thought this was like a Final Four game, or a Big East championship or an NCAA Tournament game. I thought it was played at that level."

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