An earthquake and an upset at Maui Invitational

BY foxsports • November 24, 2010

The first jolt came in the early semifinal, when unranked Connecticut knocked off No. 2 Michigan State.

Then came the real one - a magnitude-4.7 earthquake off the coast that rattled chairs, tables and the rims for about five seconds in the late game between No. 8 Kentucky and No. 13 Washington.

What a second day at the Maui Invitational - and the championship game is still to come Wednesday night.

''It should be fun,'' Kentucky coach John Calipari said.

Brandon Knight scored 24 points, Terrence Jones had 16 points and 17 rebounds and the Wildcats shook off poor shooting to hold off Washington 74-67 on Tuesday night.

The big news was the little quake that struck off the coast of Maui. It hit during a timeout with about 6 minutes left and was felt 100 miles away in Honolulu.

No damages or injuries were reported and the game resumed once the timeout finished, many of the people inside the Lahaina Civic Center seemingly unaware of the jolt because of the loud noise and shaking stands already caused by the raucous crowd.

Calipari and Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said they didn't feel the temblor, but a few players did.

''I felt the ground shaking and the rim was moving,'' said Isaiah Thomas, who led the Huskies with 13 points. ''I didn't know if it was an earthquake.''

Romar joked that it felt as though the rims were moving all night, which was only a mild understatement.

Battling for every inch in a defense-dominated game, Kentucky (4-0) and Washington (3-1) made it tough for anyone to score.

Knight was 10 of 17 from the field, but the Wildcats shot 39 percent overall and were just 3 for 17 from 3-point range.

Washington wasn't any better, shooting 38 percent and hitting just 1 of 8 from 3-point range in the second half.

The Huskies still had a chance, pulling within two on a hard drive by Thomas with just under a minute left, but missed a couple of shots and were forced to foul. The young Wildcats pulled it out by hitting five of six free throws in the final 36 seconds, earning a spot in the title game against Connecticut.

''We were fortunate to get where we were and sneak out (with a win),'' Calipari said.

The earthquake overshadowed a quality first semifinal between two teams who don't mind mixing it up.

Even with Connecticut (4-0) in rebuilding mode, this was a big early-season matchup - physical, powerhouse teams from power conferences meeting in paradise.

The atmosphere, quiet in the day's first two games, was juiced for the first semifinal, fans from each team separated by a set of stairs chanting and screaming with every twist, making the high school-sized Lahaina Civic Center feel like an NCAA tournament game.

They got to see the kind of gritty, back-bending defensive game you'd expect from teams in the Big East and Big Ten, too; super athletic players knocking each other to the floor and piling on like offensive lineman for loose balls.

The Huskies came out on top, knocking off the Spartans 70-67 in the kind of prestige-building win they were looking for after a disappointing 2009-10 season.

''We just showed the world we can play,'' said UConn's Kemba Walker, who scored 30 points and hit a key jumper with less than a minute left.

Michigan State (3-1) had three chances to tie in the final 20 seconds, but Draymond Green missed two free throws, Kalin Lucas threw a pass to no one on a miscommunication with Durrell Summers, and Green was just short on a desperation shot from midcourt.

The Spartans had more chances than that throughout the game, but struggled to get good looks against UConn's long-and-athletic defense and had some key turnovers late, including two after players fell on slippery spots near midcourt.

''I'm very disappointed with the way we finished,'' Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. ''We had some things that just didn't work out.''


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