NCAA National Championship Live Blog: Kemba Walker, Alex Oriakhi Lead UConn to Third Title

NCAA National Championship Live Blog: Kemba Walker, Alex Oriakhi Lead UConn to Third Title

11:26 p.m.: UConn closed out Butler by a 53-41 count and won its third national championship. It might have been the most horrid game ever in a national championship, but they all count the same.

It’s only a matter of time until the stat mongers come out with all of the records that were broken in this game, and they weren’t the good kind. Most notably, Butler only made 12 of 64 field goals (18.8 percent), including 3 of 31 (9.7 percent) from two-point range.

Lowell’s own Alex Oriakhi was the star for UConn with 11 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

Kemba Walker scored a game-high 16 points.

11:24 p.m.: All jokes aside, UConn deserves credit for putting together an amazing 11-0 run in the postseason, and Butler deserves a big tip of the cap for two straight trips to the title game. The awful display of basketball in this game should only temporarily take away from that.

11:18 p.m.: Dean Smith’s four-corners offense had a better chance of accidentally scoring than Butler’s had in this game. The Bulldogs are 10-of-56 from the floor (17.9 percent) and 3-of-28 (10.7 percent) on two-pointers.

11:08 p.m.: Alex Oriakhi, who hails from Lowell, threw down a big dunk to give UConn a 43-30 lead with 5:49 remaining. Oriakhi has 10 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, and his inside presence has been a big reason why Butler has been so intimidated to go inside.

11:01 p.m.: Kemba Walker made a circus lay-up to extend UConn’s lead to 39-28 with 10:05 to go, and a UConn victory looks as certain as anything in Houston. Butler’s offense is disgusting right now.

10:55 p.m.: Butler’s streak of 14 straight misses mercifully came to an end. Butler was also 1 of 4 from the charity stripe during that stretch, which set the game back by six decades.

10:52 p.m.: UConn has an 18-0 advantage in points in the paint, and Butler has now missed 13 consecutive shots.

10:49 p.m.: Butler has missed a dozen shots in a row, and Jeremy Lamb has seven points in the second half. UConn has built a 31-26 lead that looks a whole lot bigger than it is.

10:40 p.m.: Chase Stigall and Kemba Walker each have nine points. If Stigall outscores Walker, UConn will not win. Oh, and if Butler outscores UConn, UConn will not win. Just so you know.

10:35 p.m.: Butler made five 3-pointers, five free throws and one two-point field goal in the first half. You read that correct. One.

The second half is underway in Houston.

10:31 p.m.: This was the lowest-scoring first half in a national championship game since 1946. If you want to break a 65-year-old record, this probably wasn’t the one to shoot for.

10:26 p.m.: Butler and UConn made a combined 25.9 percent of their field-goal attempts in the first half. Butler was 6-of-27. Yes, Butler made six shots and has a lead.

10:10 p.m.: Shelvin Mack scored the final six points of the half, including a heck of a buzzer beater to give Butler a 22-19 lead at the break. Mack dribbled to the left arc and rose above an outstretched Donnell Beverly, who was in perfect position, to drill a 3-pointer.

Butler should be happy with its defensive pressure in the opening half, but it should also be nervous that it’s only got a three-point lead when Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb struggled badly. Walker is 3-of-11 for seven points, and Lamb has missed both of his attempts to go scoreless.

Then again, Mack was quiet until the final few minutes, and Matt Howard is 1-of-6 with just two rebounds.

UConn should be able to open it up a little more by getting Walker, Lamb and Alex Oriakhi back on the court after all three went to the bench earlier than expected with two fouls. Let’s see if they can find a rhythm together, though.

10:07 p.m.: Kemba Walker picked up his second foul with 2:46 to go in the first half and went to the bench with seven points. He’s been off, though, hitting just 3 of 11 from the floor. The rest of his teammates aren’t much better, going 6-for-18.

10:01 p.m.: Shelvin Mack finally struck, drilling a long 3-pointer for his first field goal of the game on five attempts, and the game is tied at 19. Obviously, neither of these teams is an offensive juggernaut, but the sightlines are brutal on TV, so I can only imagine how much of an adjustment it is shooting the ball at a football stadium. I don’t care that they each played Saturday and have a few practices under their belt. The pressure of a national championship and everything that comes with it has made life difficult for UConn and Butler.

9:55 p.m.: With Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard on the bench for Butler, Chase Stigall took it upon himself to hit a 3-pointer from Dallas that gave the Bulldogs a 16-15 lead with about seven minutes remaining in the first half. It’s been an ugly game so far. Each team is playing well on defense, and neither has made many tough shots, save for Stigall’s.

9:40 p.m.: Kemba Walker missed his first five shots, but he’s got five points in the last two possessions to push UConn to a 13-8 lead. Butler’s Shelvin Mack has missed his first four shots, including two lay-ups, so it’s been a tough start for the stars.

9:32 p.m.: The national championship got off to a crazy start, literally. After UConn scored on its opening possession, the CBS cameras switched to the opposite side of the court, giving the impression that each team was shooting at the same hoop. If you looked down for a second, you might have been concerned about your mental aptitude.

9:26 p.m.: UConn won the opening tip, and this thing is under way in Texas.

9:16 p.m.: I think UConn takes this game because of its 10-game postseason winning streak and the amazing play of Kemba Walker, but I think it’s going to be close from wire to wire. Just can’t imagine Butler getting blown out by anyone. The Bulldogs’ coaching, discipline and defense are simply too strong for that to happen.

9:05 p.m.: UConn and Butler are about 20 minutes away from getting this thing going. Only in college basketball could a team be playing in its second consecutive national championship and be the underdog each time, but such is life for Butler.

8 a.m.: Butler has its second straight chance to knock off a powerhouse program in the national championship, but the Bulldogs won’t have it easy Monday night against the peaking UConn Huskies and college sensation Kemba Walker. UConn has won 10 consecutive postseason games and has a chance to add a national championship to a resume that also includes a Big East crown. The Huskies are trying to win their third national championship in program history, which would tie them with Kansas for the sixth-most in college basketball. If UConn wins, Jim Calhoun will be tied with Bob Knight for the fourth-most titles in history.

Butler, on the other hand, is the first No. 8 seed to reach the championship game in 26 years, and the Bulldogs are the more experienced team after falling a shot shy of toppling Duke in last year’s final. Butler has taken down an impressive group of teams on its path to the title game, including Old Dominion, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Florida and VCU. 

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