Harvard-Connecticut Preview

BY foxsports • December 21, 2010

Connecticut's Kemba Walker is no longer the nation's leading scorer, but it's doubtful the junior guard or coach Jim Calhoun are disappointed.

The fourth-ranked Huskies are trying to get more balanced scoring ahead of a major showdown to open Big East play and will likely work toward achieving that Wednesday night against visiting Harvard.

Walker averaged 30.0 points in this season's first six games, and the Huskies (9-0) needed those high-scoring efforts to stay unbeaten while facing then-No. 2 Michigan State and then-No. 8 Kentucky in the Maui Invitational.

Walker's scoring has tapered off this month as he's tried to help out his teammates. His 20 points in Monday night's 76-64 win over Coppin State were his fewest since he had 18 in the season opener.

Walker's performance dropped his scoring average to 27.2, just behind Northern Illinois' Xavier Silas' 28.1. The Huskies, though, had three other players with at least nine points in the victory. During each of Walker's previous two 30-point efforts, only one other player reached that mark.

"I thought Kemba played really unselfishly trying to get everybody involved," Calhoun said. "He was not playing to get his 25 or 30 points; he was playing to make sure that we won."

The Huskies could use more balance with next Monday's conference opener against No. 6 Pittsburgh on the horizon. They are probably also hoping to get a little better overall effort against the Crimson (7-2) than in Monday's win, which came after a 12-day break.

Connecticut led by as much as 26 in the second half, but Calhoun was slightly disappointed that his team had that advantage cut to 10 with 5:49 left. The Huskies posted a 58-29 rebounding advantage, but shot 40.6 percent and were 3 of 16 from 3-point range.

"We just didn't maintain the intensity," Calhoun said. "We won't be able to do that on Wednesday. Sure in heck, a couple of days after Christmas they can't do that."

Connecticut also held a double-digit lead early in the second half last season against Harvard but had that advantage cut to six with 9:03 remaining. The Huskies held on for a 79-73 victory in part because of Walker's 20-point effort.

Connecticut won't have to face Jeremy Lin, who led Harvard with 30 points and nine rebounds in the defeat, as he's now with the Golden State Warriors.

The Crimson, however, return most of their other top scorers from last season's school-best, 21-win squad. Sophomore guard Christian Webster has averaged a team-best 16.6 points and led his team with 18 in an 87-71 win over rival Boston University on Dec. 11.

Junior forward Keith Wright, averaging 15.7 points and a team-leading 8.8 rebounds, had his fourth double-double of the season in that victory. He's also one of the nation's best shooters at 66.3 percent.

Preseason All-Ivy League forward Kyle Casey, however, has had a slow recovery from a foot injury that cost him three games, and has averaged 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds. He was the Crimson's second-leading scorer in 2009-10 with 10.4 points per game and averaged a team-best 5.1 rebounds.

Connecticut leads the series 13-2.

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