UConn shuts down Butler, 53-41

Connecticut Huskies guard Kemba Walker celebrates after the Connecticut Huskies defeated the Butler Bulldogs during their men’s final NCAA Final Four college basketball game in Houston, Texas, April 4, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Connecticut shot 34.5% from the field, including 1-of-11 from long range, and turned the ball over five more times than Butler and still won the game by 12 points.

More than anything else, the story tonight was Butler’s shooting. They made just 12-of-64 (19%) from the field, and only 3-of-31 (10%) from two-point range thanks in part to UConn’s 10 blocked shots.

Greg Anthony called it the worst performance he’s ever seen in a championship game and that’s half true. It was a terrible shooting performance, but the Bulldogs played pretty great defense, holding UConn to just 53 points on 35% shooting. So for that they should be commended.

Regarding the shooting, UConn contested a lot of shots, but the Bulldogs missed some open looks as well. If anything, tonight’s game is yet another argument that the Final Four should take place in a basketball arena instead of in a football stadium. There was a piece in the Wall Street Journal today about how the shooting in domes decreases by an average of 4%. It’s simply tough to shoot in such a big building because there isn’t anything behind the basket to help give the shooter a frame of reference.

I’m not going to go into specifics about player statlines because they’re all pretty ugly (on both sides), but the play of UConn’s Alex Oriakhi (5-of-6 from the field, 11 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks) and Jeremy Lamb (12 second-half points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block) were collectively the difference in the game. Oriakhi gave Matt Howard and Andrew Smith fits around the basket and Lamb’s scoring broke the game open in the second half.

Congratulations to Jim Calhoun and UConn on a great year. It’s amazing to think that we have a national champion who didn’t even finish in the TOP HALF of its conference. (UConn was 9th out of 16 teams in the Big East.) Since they didn’t bother to mention it during the telecast, let’s not forget that Calhoun will be suspended for the first three games of the Big East schedule next season for recruiting violations that happened under his watch. For his part, Calhoun has fought the NCAA’s ruling every step of the way.

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