VIDEO: U-Conn stuns Michigan State, faces Kentucky in finalNovember 24, 2010, 6:48 AM HST · Updated November 25, 6:01 AM 0 Comments
By Fred Guzman
LAHAINA – A relatively close call against Chaminade on Monday provided a hint of things to come for Michigan State.
On Tuesday, playing against a full-fledged Division-I team, the nationally second-ranked Spartans were knocked out of title contention in the EA Sports Maui Invitational Tournament.
With Kemba Walker’s 30 points leading the way, unranked Connecticut posted a 70-67 semifinal victory at the expense of Michigan State and earned a berth in tonight’s 5 p.m. title game at the Lahaina Civic Center.
Walker’s fadeaway jumper over a double-team with 53 seconds left in the game put U-Conn ahead to stay. The 6-foot junior has been on a tear on Maui, scoring 29 of his 31 points in the second half in an opening 83-79 come back win over Wichita State.
Also playing a major role for the Huskies in yesterday’s win was 6-foot-9 sophomore center Alex Oriakhi, who had 15 points and 17 rebounds.
The Huskies will face eighth-ranked Kentucky, which advanced with a 74-67 win over No. 13 Washington thanks, in large part, to freshman forward Terrence Jones’ 16 points and 17 rebounds.
That means Michigan State and Washington are relegated to the third-place game, which is set for a noon tip off.
In yesterday’s other games: Wichita State beat Chaminade 79-58 and Virginia spanked Oklahoma 74-56.
Chaminade and Oklahoma will meet in the seventh-place game at 9:30 a.m. and Wichita State will tangle with Virginia for fifth at 2:30 p.m.
All four games will be aired on Maui’s ESPN 550 and espn550.com.
UH UPDATE: You can’t blame Western Athletic Conference commissioner Karl Benson from trying to keep hope alive, even if the University of Hawaii is clearly committed to leaving the WAC to join the rival Mountain West in football and the Big West in all other sports.
In a meeting with UH athletic director Jim Donovan yesterday in Las Vegas, where the Rainbow Wahine are competing in the WAC volleyball tournament.
UH advanced to the finals against Utah State by defeating Idaho 25-11, 25-21, 25-16,
According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Donovan said Benson “reiterated his position that they have an offer on the table to us to be a football-only member of the WAC and reminded me there would be no travel subsidies (sought). I told him I would share that with the members of our leadership team.”
Donovan said he “made some calls” but declined additional comment.
UH is expected to pay travel subsidies to both the MWC and Big West as a condition of admission.