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Jeremy Lamb steps up the support for Connecticut

The freshman ties his career high with 24 points, making nine of 11 shots — including all three of his three-point tries in 30 minutes.

March 24, 2011|Staff reports
  • Connecticut's Jeremy Lamb gets a hug from teammate Alex Oriakhi after being fouled in the second half of the Huskies' 74-67 victory over San Diego State at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday night.
Connecticut's Jeremy Lamb gets a hug from teammate Alex Oriakhi after… (Bettina Hansen / McClatchy-Tribune )

Kemba Walker was the star of the show, but the best supporting player in Connecticut's 74-67 win over San Diego State in a West Regional semifinal at Honda Center on Thursday was Jeremy Lamb.

The freshman from Norcross, Ga., tied his career high with 24 points, making nine of 11 shots — including all three of his three-point tries in 30 minutes.

Other than Lamb and Walker, no Huskies player had more than five points. "Jeremy has been playing great basketball for us for a while now," Walker said.

UConn ends San Diego State's most successful season

Indeed, Lamb has reached double figures in scoring in eight consecutive postseason games, breaking Husky Khalid El-Amin's school freshman record set in 1997-98.

"I get a lot of easy shots playing off Kemba ... and all I can try to do is knock them down," Lamb said.

Aztecs sequel?

Forward Kawhi Leonard predicted San Diego State's unprecedented success this season was not a one-shot deal.

"There's still next season," he said. "I just think it's going to be better from here."

Leonard, who had 13 points and nine rebounds in Thursday's loss, is projected as a first-round pick if he declares for the NBA draft. After the game, the sophomore from Riverside was noncommittal about what his future.

"I've got to talk to Coach [Steve] Fisher and see what's up with him and then make a decision," he said.

Hot and cold

D.J. Gay continued to give it his best shot even though his month-long inability to put the ball in the basket showed no sign of letting up.

San Diego State's senior guard, a Sun Valley Poly High graduate, began Thursday having made just 24 of 91 shots (26.4%) in his previous 10 games.

And he misfired on eight of his first 11 shots against Connecticut.

Then came a stretch in the final four minutes in which Gay's shots started falling. He made a three-pointer from the wing with 3 minutes 45 seconds left and then another to draw the Aztecs to within 65-64 with 2:54 remaining.

"I thought that there was a need for me to get more aggressive offensively," Gay said. "There was nothing to lose."

Gay had a forgettable final 11/2 minutes, though, missing a three-pointer and throwing a lob that was intercepted by Connecticut's Lamb for a breakaway dunk.

Gay finished with 16 points on five-for-15 shooting, making four of nine three-pointers.

Coach K approval

Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski certainly saw enough of Arizona's Derrick Williams, who scored 32 points and had 13 rebounds in the Wildcats' 93-77 victory over the Blue Devils.

Afterward, Krzyzewski couldn't say enough about Williams.

"As a team, you can have such confidence when you know he is out there on the court," Krzyzewski said. "Even when he's not scoring, he spreads the other team out and is just such a presence. He's clean. He's just a beautiful player."

So long, Anaheim

Those from Duke probably don't regard Anaheim as the happiest place on earth. This is the second time that the Blue Devils have been bounced in the regional semifinals in Anaheim. They lost to Kansas in 2003.

Times staff writers Baxter Holmes, Ben Bolch, Chris Foster and Mike Hiserman contributed to this report.

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