ANAHEIM, Calif. - Kemba Walker sliced up San Diego State's defense for 22 points on shots from all angles and distances in the second half of Connecticut's West regional semifinal.
The Aztecs only kept him down once: A shoulder bump from Jamaal Franklin sent Walker crashing to the Honda Center floor, drawing a technical foul and two momentum-killing free throws.
Walker denied doing any acting on the play. He's still the star of these resilient Huskies' remarkable production.
Walker scored 36 points in yet another dynamic postseason performance, driving UConn down the stretch Thursday night to a 74-67 victory that put the Huskies on the brink of another Final Four.
Freshman Jeremy Lamb added a season-high 24 points and hit a clutch 3-pointer with 1:43 left for the third-seeded Huskies (29-9), who are headed to an NCAA regional final for the 10th time after beating the Aztecs and a building full of hostile fans just 90 minutes from San Diego.
"I've never been in an environment like this," said Lamb, perfect on three 3-pointers. "Kemba hit some big shots, I hit some big shots, and we were able to pull it out. They had a lot of fans. I've never played in a game like it."
The Huskies will meet Arizona, which beat Duke, on Saturday.
UConn has been streaking ever since its regular season ended with four losses in five games. Walker, their fearless playmaker from the Bronx who's generously listed at 6-foot-1, drove them to the Big East tournament title with five wins in five days.
The Huskies then knocked off Bucknell and Cincinnati in the first two NCAA rounds to earn a trip into the backyard of the second-seeded Aztecs (34-3), who hadn't lost to anybody but BYU during the best season in school history.
Walker and his teammates didn't flinch.
"This run has been sensational, and I haven't yet been able to put it in perspective," said Huskies coach Jim Calhoun, who was cited by the NCAA last month for recruiting violations and failing to create an atmosphere of compliance. "I couldn't have asked for a better gift than this team, and then we get this. I don't remember anything quite like this. This is different. This team genuinely believes in themselves and each other.
"I hate to say this, but this is an old-fashioned team."
With a newfangled scoring star who doesn't allow his size of his opponents' defense to stop his feats.
Walker outdueled Aztecs point guard D.J. Gay, who scored 16 points and trimmed UConn's second-half lead to 65-64 on a 3-pointer with 2:53 to play. Lamb replied with his 3, and his emphatic last-second dunk set off a celebration in the section of thoroughly outnumbered UConn fans.
"When your season comes to a screeching halt, like it will for every team with one exception, it hurts," Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said. "It should hurt, regardless of when, where and how. For our team this year, for what they've accomplished, it hurts exponentially more. I could not be more proud of how we competed, how hard we played, and unfortunately we came up a bit short."
Duke coach said that after winning his second gold medal in men's basketball would be his Team USA finale. That may not be the case anymore.
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