No. 2 UConn's 93-82 win over No. 8 Marquette was probably the most entertaining and fulfilling game this season.
There's so much that is first-pump-worthy from this one: Coach Cal got his 800th win, A.J. Price scored a career-high 36 and had probably his best performance all season, Stanley Robinson decided to show up (19 points, 10 boards) and screamed a whole lot, and UConn (24-2, 14-2 Big East) put itself in good position to reclaim its No. 1 ranking, barring a meltdown vs. Notre Dame Saturday (Jinx! Jinx! Jinx!).
After the game, Calhoun was just as pleased:
"We've had teams that have maybe had more names, in some ways," Calhoun said (somehow without mentioned either of his championship teams). "But this team is getting to be pretty good. A performance like tonight gives you a hint that we can really do some special things."
More observations from the game after the jump
I went through most of this already, but here are a few other things that went well:
- UConn pretty much locked up a top-four spot in the Big East Tournament (it'd be highly unlikely if they didn't get one at this point). Update: I didn't bother to work out the tiebreaker scenarios, but the CT Post's article says it's a done deal.
- The Huskies continued their unbeaten streak on the road and will head into the season finale at Pitt with a chance to finish the regular season undefeated away from Storrs and Hartford.
- Coincidentally, The Golden Eagles (23-5, 12-3) had thier 17-game winning streak at the Bradley Center snapped.
- I think Stanley's night deserves a little more attention. After falling into a black hole with Ozzie Smith for five games, Robinson has now scored 10 or more in the past two games. But tonight's performance was far more substantial than 10 superficial points against South Florida. Robinson used his size advantage against the Oompa Loompas on Marquette and was able get to the rim -- gasp! -- pretty easily, where he proceeded to slam the ball and scream like he'd just been scalded with boiling water. Of course there were the regular Stanley lapses -- he had a few puzzling shots and ended up with four fouls -- but he shot 50 pct. from the floor and gave the Huskies some big shots when they needed them; down 74-73 with 6:39 to play, Robinson scored six points of an 11-0 run that essentially sealed the game. So, in other words: AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
- Even though he should've got the ball more, Hasheem Thabeet still had another great night: 14 points, 15 boards and five blocks.
- Price was 8-for-13 from 3-point range and took over the game the way he used to most of last season.
- Scottie Haralson made a shot! Two, even!
A great win, but still a few nits to pick:
- Jeff Adrien must have borrowed Robinson's invisibility cloak. The woyah had two points, was 0-for-4 from the field and had four rebounds in 29 minutes. But it was really his only bad game of the season, so we'll give him a pass. Besides, I can do without a thrashing.
- Adrien wasn't the only one struggling. The big three of Robinson, Thabeet and Price combined for 69 of UConn's 93 points. Kemba Runner had nine, but was erratic most of the night. Craig Austrie had two points on 1-for-6 shooting, again showing he's really not that important to the team. Still, Kemba looked lost at times, and I guess I agree with Calhoun that Austrie should continue to start. (Watch Kemba's D in the second half. It wasn't pretty.)
- I think everyone watching the game was calling for Thabeet to get the ball more. It got so bad, even Dickie V. pointed it out. This game could've been over earlier had they gone away from the 3 and established the post game.
- Although Haralson made a shot, he also finished 2-for-5, all 3s. He missed two wide-open shots to open the night, and after making the next two, Marquette finally put someone on him. Kudos to Calhoun for not giving him the '06 Austire treatment when he struggled.
- On a more serious note, Golden Eagles guard Dominic James went down early in the game and it turns out he broke a bone in his left foot. The injury will end his season and significantly hinder Marquette's chances of doing anything in either tournament. I made a slight jab at James before the game, but it's always disappointing to see someone go down, especially a senior. And it also sucks to know Marquette's exciting offense will be down a weapon and will be vulnerable in the NCAAs. Marquette coach Buzz Williams was a bit emotional announcing the prognosis after the game:
"I hugged him before I came in here," Williams said, his voice cracking.
From ESPN's Instant Analysis:
Marquette guards James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews have been in sync for the past four years, but when it comes to singing, the group needs work. In a pregame video, the three guards, along with fellow senior Dwight Burke, sang their rendition of Boyz II Men's "End of the Road," possibly in preparation for Senior Day. Let's just say their play is easier on the eyes than their singing is on the ears.
- ESPN's Adam Rittenberg plays the A.J. Price "hey, he almost died and had all these set backs but is still good" angle. Kind of surprised it took this long to go through this one again.
- Highlights from the game
- Matt's UConn Blog takes a look at the game and gets bonus points for the Bond reference.
- The Courant only has a brief as I write this, but at least you can look at the awkward hug between Cal and Price after the game.