The Connecticut Huskies defeated the Butler Bulldogs 53-41 Monday Night to win the 2011 NCAA National Championship. Kemba Walker lead Connecticut with 16 points and nine rebounds.
The win gave Connecticut its third national title since 1999. The title is also coach Jim Calhoun's third title, making him the oldest coach to win a title at the age of 68. He also becomes the fifth coach to win three titles. The other coaches being Adolph Rupp, John Wooden, Bob Knight, and Mike Krzyzewski.
This game will probably go down more for poor shooting more than anything else.
The first half was a struggle for both teams. You could either say it was due to excellent defense from both teams or you could say that it was because both teams were nervous given what was on the line tonight. You could even blame it on a basketball game being played in a football stadium.
However you say it, the shooting was terrible in the first 20 minutes. Butler was 6-27 from field for 22.2%. They were 5-14 from behind the three point line for 35.7%. So that means that of Butler's 6 field goals in the first half, only one was for two points. They were still able to lead by three at the half.
The Bulldogs lead even though Connecticut shot better during the first half. Connecticut was 9-31 for 29% at halftime. What really hurt the Huskies was they continued their poor three point shooting. They were 0-5 from behind the arch in the first half.
Even the stars were not able to escape the bad shooting bug. Butler's
Shelvin Mack was 2-7, both three pointers for seven points. Matt Howard
was 1-6 from the field, it was also a three pointer and had five points
at half time.
The second half was when Connecticut made its move. The Huskies went on a 14-4 run during the first seven and a half minutes of the second half. The run was lead by Lamb, who scored 9 of his 12 points during that run.
Butler's Mack did not score his first points in the second half until
two minutes to go in the game. Mack lead the Bulldogs with 13 points, he
was the only Butler playing to reach double digits in points. Senior
Matt Howard only scored seven points in his final college basketball
Connecticut was able to win the title despite only shooting 34.5% from the field and hitting only 1-11 three point shot. This combined with the 1-12 three point shots they made against Kentucky in the national semi-finals, the Huskies only shot 9% from three during the two games.
The Huskies controlled the paint outscoring the Bulldogs 26-2 in the lane. They also out-rebounded Butler 51-38. They also had 10 blocked shots to Butlers two. They were able to be physical when the Bulldogs did drive the lane, making them miss lay ups or kick it out to a three point shot.
Connecticut ended the season on an 11 game winning streak. This included winning five games in five days in the Big East Tournament and six in a row in the NCAA. They closed the season undefeated in non-conference games and won every tournament they were in: the Maui Invitational, Big East, and NCAA.
The only question seems to be what will this team look like next season? There have been rumors that Jim Calhoun has consider retirement. Kemba Walker will graduate this spring and along with freshman Jeremy Lamb have raised the NBA draft stock, with their run over the past month.
For now, Huskies fans can enjoy a NCAA Championship.
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