Connecticut 74, San Diego State 67

Connecticut Huskies junior guard Kemba Walker has been shouldering the load for much of the year but he received a little help from a teammate in their Sweet 16 win over the San Diego State Aztecs on March 24. Freshman forward Jeremy Lamb scored 24 points, which together with Walker’s 36 points and four three pointers, helped the Huskies advance to the Elite Eight, just one year removed from missing the tournament.

Lamb and Walker were the only two players to score in double figures for Connecticut but the rest of their teammates didn’t have to do much. Walker and Lamb combined to go 7-of-11 from deep as the duo bested San Diego’s 7-of-22 from the three point line. Counting their Big East tournament romp, Connecticut has played eight games (all wins) over the last 17 days but appear to be hitting their stride at just the right time.

Senior guard D.J. Gay led San Diego State with 16 points and the Aztecs placed three other players in double figures but none could match the output from the hungry Huskies duo.

Arizona 93, Duke 77

Throughout the first half of their Sweet 16 matchup on March 24, the Duke Blue Devils appeared to have things in control. Last year’s champions held an 11-point lead at one point over the Arizona Wildcats and a return trip to the Elite Eight seemed to be on the horizon. But a 19-2 Wildcat run in the second half broke the game completely wide open as Arizona ran away with game over the final 20 minutes of play.

Arizona sophomore forward Derrick Williams scored a career-high 32 points and added 13 rebounds as he led the way for the team’s improbable upset. Williams was electric throughout the night, connecting on five three pointers and issuing an array of dunks that exploded the Wildcat faithful out of their seats. Duke was led by 28 points from freshman reserve point guard Kyrie Irving but their starting backcourt of senior Nolan Smith and sophomore Seth Curry combined for 10 points of 4-of-16 shooting.

“As a coach you’re very proud of your team in this tournament period, but today, these guys right here played at the highest level that they possibly could have,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said after the game in the team’s post press conference. “And that’s what we needed to beat the great program that Duke is.”

Arizona will advance to play Connecticut on Saturday, March 26 in the West regional final.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO