Welcome back, all, to the Kemba Walker Show.
Here is the objectivity: 31 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds, 1 eye-popping self-pass off the backboard for a layup. 13-23 from the field, 12-18 from inside the 3-point line. Two backbreaking buckets to turn a 70-69 deficit into a 73-70 lead with just over a minute to play.
Here's the subjectivity: KEMBA KEMBA YEAH YEAH OH YEAH
Walker turned in a vintage performance tonight, and the Huskies looked once again like the team that blew off Kentucky's doors and beat Texas in Austin. Not only did tonight's 78-70 win over Georgetown remind me of the Maui Tournament games, but the positives of tonight's game have me feeling sky-high looking forward.
If Kemba's back for good after his little 12-game dip of inefficiency, there's almost no limit to what this team can accomplish. But you can read about Kemba and his ridiculousness everywhere tonight and tomorrow.
But how about Jamal Coombs-McConsistency, showing up for the second straight game to be a major contributor (23 points on 11 field goal attempts, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals)?
Coombs-McDaniel was pretty much the Platonic ideal of what UConn was missing during their mini-slump over the last two weeks: an efficient scorer, a big body who can rebound and a matchup problem. I have no idea if this is for real, if JCM is really going to be a player down the stretch, but damn is it fun to watch right now.
How about the fact that, after Kemba torched Georgetown for the first 10+ minutes of the second half, the Hoyas finally went to a 2-3 zone. And what happened the first time down? Coombs runs to the seam near the elbow, spins and buries an open jumper.
For a team that's made it look like opponents were playing a 5-6 zone defense, it was beautiful to see. Georgetown went to the zone down 63-60; three possessions and six Tuff McJuice points later, the Hoyas dropped the zone. Swoon...
How about Calhoun going back to Alex Oriakhi, breaking his sacred two-foul-in-the-first-half rule. UConn had been getting destroyed on the offensive boards, and that battle seemed to shift almost as soon as Oriakhi (8 rebs) went back in. Big props to Oriakhi for putting in good work in a fairly physical game.
Chris Wright was sensational for Georgetown (5-for-9 from 3, 19 points), but it was very nice to see UConn to hold a very good-shooting Georgetown team to 43% from the field. The Hoyas made a lot of tough shots (and, to be honest, missed a couple easy ones down the stretch), but when they missed, UConn kept them off the boards.
The Huskies, on the other hand, didn't shoot the 3 very well, but were incredibly efficient inside the arc (28-for-45). And while Georgetown did make their run - taking a very brief lead with 2:00 to play - there was no chance they could stop Kemba off the dribble. And that was the difference.
My biggest worry was that I didn't think UConn wouldn't be efficient enough on offense or proficient enough on defense to beat the veteran Hoyas. Tonight at least, they were.
And really, that's all tonight means. An extremely young team withstood some early punches, and then rode their rejuvenated star to a lead in front of their home crowd. They locked down a very good offensive team and scored the game's final nine points. They closed out the hottest team in the Big East, one that will probably be playing deep into March.
These are all good signs, and they reinforce what we already knew: UConn can beat anyone in the country on any given day. And it's very satisfying to watch this group of players do it.