Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Walker Drops 30 in UConn Upset of No. 2 Sparty; Coach K Wins 800th Career Game at Duke
Kemba Walker dropped 30 points and hit a clutch jumper with less than a minute remaining in unranked UConn’s 70-67 upset of No. 2 Michigan State in the Maui Invitational semis.
Remember, this was a UConn team picked 10th in the 16-team Big East.
Walker, a junior out of Manhattan Rice, has now put up 103 points in three games and is the first player ever under UConn coach Jim Calhoun to have three straight 30-point games.
“Very exciting,” Walker told ESPN’s Jay Bilas. “First of all, just getting revenge from the Final Four my freshman year and just beating the No. 2 team in the country, that’s exciting. Everybody keeps saying that we’re a young team. We showed the world that we can play.”
Walker dropped 42 points and eight rebounds in a win over Vermont. He followed that with 31 points, including 29 in the second half, Monday against Wichita State.
And then he poured in 30 against Sparty.
Walker, who has clearly elevated his NBA Draft status thus far, trained this summer with the Select Team against Team USA and competed against Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose.
“Those guys are 21, 22 [year-old] all-stars and it was a humbling experience,” Walker told me earlier this fall. “I think I did a pretty good job at holding my own against those guys so it was a good experience.”
Next up for Walker and the Huskies is a date with No. 8 Kentucky , which downed No. 13 Washington, 74-67.
Terrence Jones, a 6-8 freshman who initially verbally committed to UW only to change his mind for Kentucky three weeks later (“You want to come, you still have a scholarship,” UK coach John Calipari told ESPN he told Jones at the time), put up 16 points and 17 boards against the Huskies.
Fellow freshman Brandon Knight added 24 points for Kentucky.
The Knight-Walker matchup Wednesday night should be a great one.
COACH K WINS 800TH
Mike Krzyzewski won his 800th career game at Duke as the No. 1 Blue Devils routed No. 3 Kansas State 82-68 in the CBE Classic semis.
He joins Dean Smith (879), Adolph Rupp (876), Jim Boeheim (833) and Jim Phelan (830) among coaches who’ve won 800 at one school.
Coach K won 73 games at Army and has won 873 total, closing fast on Rupp, Smith and Bob Knight (902).
“We played great because they’re a heck of a team,” Coach K told ESPN. “I thought our toughness throughout, especially on the defensive boards was outstanding. We didn’t give them very many open shots, so we beat a really good team tonight.”
Coach K currently owns an Olympic gold medal, an NCAA championship ring and a World Championship ring.
Freshman guard Kyrie Irving of Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick put up 17 points, 6 assists and 3 steals, and senior guard Nolan Smith had 17 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
New York product Curtis Kelly of K-State dropped 19 points and 6 rebounds.
Here’s some good news for West Virginia fans, like Rutgers football SID Jason Baum. Mount Vernon coach Bob Cimmino says Jabarie Hinds, who signed with the Mounties, has the potential to be as good or better than former UConn star and NBA guard Ben Gordon. “Jabarie and Ben, it’s yet to be determined,” he said. “They’re the 1-2, I just don’t know what order they’re in.” I bring that up now because Gordon was the last Calhoun player to drop 30 points in three games, and that happened over a season, not in consecutive games…No. 4 Pitt hammered a Karon Abraham-less Robert Morris squad, 74-53. Abraham, the former Paterson Eastside star averaging 14 points, was out for a violation of team rules. Brad Wanamaker had 17 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists for the Panthers, and Ashton Gibbs, the reigning Big East Player of the Week, poured in 20 points…Mike Rice and Rutgers are now 3-1 after an 83-59 rout of Norfolk State…Iona’s Kyle Smyth, a former Don Bosco Prep star, hit a program-record eight 3-pointers and dropped 29 points in an 86-65 rout of Albany. Former St. Pat’s star Jermel Jenkins added seven 3’s in the game as the Gaels completed 18 of 30 from beyond the arc.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.