Commentary

Huskies prevail in tight battle

Updated: March 30, 2009, 10:59 AM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

Jim Calhoun loves the Valley of the Sun!

Connecticut went through the state of Arizona to win the West regional in 1999 and 2004. In both of those years, the Huskies ended up cutting down the nets as national champion.

Can this program make it three-for-three?

The Huskies beat a determined Missouri team on Saturday, 82-75. Diaper dandy Kemba Walker picked a great time to score a career-high 23 points.

Walker showed tremendous penetration ability and hit key shots and free throws down the stretch. He also dished out five assists and did a solid job defensively.

A.J. Price did not shoot well on trifectas, but his leadership and ability to help break the Missouri press were factors.

Connecticut's interior defense is so tough and the Tigers did not have an easy team against Hasheem Thabeet, Jeff Adrien and the athletic Stanley Robinson.

The Huskies move on to the Final Four despite the absence of starter Jerome Dyson. Robinson chipped in with 13 big points on Saturday while Adrien posted a double-double, showing once again he is a force on the glass.

Another key was free throw shooting. Connecticut does an amazing job of avoiding fouls on the defensive end. The Huskies made 20 more free throws en route to the win.

Give Mike Anderson's team a ton of credit. Missouri was picked seventh in the Big 12 preseason poll. The Tigers fell one game short of its first trip to the Final Four.

Anderson got a lot out of his bench, inserting Keith Ramsey and Justin Safford early. Missouri was down 13-2 early, but it fought back and made this a battle.

In the end, Connecticut got to the winner's circle. This team fights and scraps, much like its coach. Jim Calhoun has been a Frank Lloyd Wright, an architect of one of America's premier basketball programs.

The Huskies are going to Detroit, baby!

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.