first_img Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 9, 2012 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Jim Calhoun had no problem declaring Kemba Walker the best player in America. With Syracuse on the verge of breaking through in overtime, Walker took over and asserted himself as one of the most dominant players in the country.‘I think he’s the MVP of any college basketball team in America,’ Calhoun said in an article published by The Daily Orange on March 11. ‘And I’m going to keep saying that because you’ve got a chance to witness what we’ve witnessed over the past 30-somewhat games.’Walker scored four of Connecticut’s eight points in overtime, leading the ninth-seeded Huskies to a 76-71 victory over the fourth-seeded Orange in the Big East Tournament semifinal matchup. The UConn star and eventual First Team All-American wowed the sold-out crowd of 19,375 at Madison Square Garden by scoring 33 points to go with 12 rebounds, six steals and five assists. Walker held or tied for a game-high in each of those categories.After Connecticut defeated Louisville in the Big East championship, Walker scored 130 points, setting the record for most points in any one conference tournament ever.Syracuse had no answer for Walker throughout the game. He shot 9-of-18 from the field and 13-of-14 from the free-throw line, single-handedly leading the Huskies to their fourth win in four days.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textScoop Jardine, who had drilled back-to-back 3s to send the game into overtime, missed a 3-pointer with 14.2 seconds left in overtime that would have tied the game at 74. And Walker hit two free throws on the other end to seal the game for UConn.SU bottled up Walker for a good portion of the first half. He didn’t hit his first field goal until the 7:29 mark in the half. But he got it done in other ways, opening up the lane and feeding his teammates as he drew the focus of the Orange defense.And he later caught fire in the second half, scoring 23 points in both the second half and overtime combined.‘We let Kemba get too much penetration,’ Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said after the game. ‘We tried to double him every chance we could, but he’s very difficult. He’s as good a player as there is in college basketball right now.’With just more than eight minutes to go in the second half, Syracuse had a chance to pull out in front for good. SU went on an 11-2 run, which included a four-point play by Kris Joseph after he was fouled knocking down a 3 from the top of the arc. Joseph’s play pushed the Orange into the lead.But as Walker had done all night, he responded. He assisted on a jumper from Jeremy Lamb to regain the lead for UConn with six minutes remaining, and the Huskies held on the rest of the way.Despite shooting 52 percent in the second half, the Orange couldn’t contain Walker. And even though Jardine forced overtime, SU could never take control.The performance gave fans a peak of what Walker would achieve in the NCAA Tournament, and UConn won its last 11 games to win the national championship.‘We’re playing hard and together and good things are happening for us,’ Walker said. ‘The bright lights are on, and it’s time to shine. Everybody said we couldn’t do this, and we’re just shocking the world.’—Compiled by Andrew Tredinnick, asst. copy editor, [email protected]last_img