Saturday, March 26, 2001 (Anaheim) - A classic heavyweight battle with a Final Four berth on the line when the Huskies and Wildcats collided at the Honda Center. The Wildcats were led by power forward Derrick Williams, who was averaging 24p-10r per game...he dominated Duke in the Sweet 16 with a 32 point night.
The Wildcats set the tone early, leading 11-3 4 minutes in as they controlled the glass. But they could never pull away as Arizona went into a scoring funk while the Huskies hung around. With the Cats up 18-12, Williams picked up his second foul and UConn went into attack mode with a 17-4 run...9-0 with Williams on the bench starting with a three, then steal and layup all by freshman Shabazz Napier. Sean Miller gambled putting Williams back in. His stay was short lived as Williams picked up #3. The Huskies finished the half on a 22-7 spurt as they took 32-25 lead into the locker room. Shooting 39%, Arizona 30%.
Arizona rallied, using an early 9-0 run to tie the game at 34 as Williams started to dominate the inside. When not scoring, was getting trips to the line as he led the nation in FT attempts. The rest of the game was punch, counter punch. UConn used an 11-2 run, a Napier 3 and a Walker driving banker the key hoops. Alex Oriachi picked up his 4th foul with 7:16 left and Arizona went on a 14-2 run as they went up 55-52.
At this point, freshman phenom Jeremy Lamb went off, back to back baseline jumpers followed by a steal and dunk to key another UConn run of 10-0 to take a 62-55 lead inside of four minutes remaining. But the Cats weren't done...they chipped away and made things interesting. Kyle Fogg hitting a pair of threes, sandwiched between another classic Kemba step back jumper from 16ft to put UConn up 65-60. After Walker had another foul line jump blocked, Napier had a decent look at a 3 with the shot clock winding down...Arizona rebounded the miss and final sequence was put in place.
Williams, who took Duke defenders off the dribble two nights earlier, never really had an opportunity against Oriachi or Charles Okwandu. And it led to him taking a top of the key three with 8 second left that clanged the back iron. Zona' got their last of their 42 rebounds and Fogg had a great look from the right corner as Lamb valiantly tried to close out. That too was a misfire off the rim and the Huskies survived for a 65-63 win.
Walker led the way with 20 and 7 assists (just 1/7 from 3) Lamb added 19 and Bazz added 10 in the win. The Huskies took great care of the, committing just five turnovers in a game that featured one tie and seven lead changes...Win number nine of the 11 it took to win UConn's third national championship since 1999...