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UConn, Walker prove San Diego State had problems guarding perimeter

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They had a great season, won the first two NCAA Tournament games for the program, and even boasted a bona-fide pro prospect player who will likely bolt for the NBA Draft.

Yes, San Diego State was a fun little team to follow from the Mountain West Conference, but tonight UConn asserted themselves on the perimeter…er…Kemba Walker scored 36 points with a big broad grin on his face en route to a 74-67 victory.

Walker was absolutely prolific tonight, most notably during a stretch in the second half where he scored 14 consecutive points and set Twitter aflutter.

That, complimented by rising star Jeremy Lamb’s 24 points, confirmed to me my developing suspicions on the Achilles Heels heel of this Aztecs squad: they can’t stop the dribble drivers. In fact, they can’t even contain them. They also really like to jack three-pointers when they should just enter the ball into the post, but that’s besides the point.

While we gush over Jimmer Fredette and Walker’s superior scoring abilities, touting them as unstoppable, we must be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that every player is at least containable. Jimmer was slowed tonight by Florida, and Walker was tempered for much of the last month of the regular season. Neither player was hardly even bothered though when matched-up against Steve Fischer’s club.

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In three games against BYU, tonight against UConn, and a game wayyy back in November against Gonzaga the Aztecs yielded point totals to their opponent’s star player of 43, 25, 30, 36, and 35 against the Bulldogs Steven Gray, respectively. With the exception of Fredette’s 25-point performance in mid-February, all those point totals were above or well above the player’s scoring average.  It’s not necessarily a knock on the defensive abilities of the Aztecs perimeter players, but more of a lack of understanding from the entire team on why it’s of uber-importance to pay a lot of attention to a ball handler who can score, or get to a place where he can score, once he steps across half-court.

Perhaps this sort of flaw went overlooked because SDSU only lost three games all season, but the evidence was there to suggest they would really, really have problems with Walker tonight, and they did.  The UConn junior was left open on the perimeter, saw his defender frequently go below the screen to allow the wide open jumper, and he got into the lane and hit that mid-range jumper.

It may be hard to argue that there’s a way to stop Kemba Walker, but there’s got to be a way to at least contain him and give yourself a real opportunity to win.

Nick Fasulo is the manager of Searching for Billy Edelin. Follow him on Twitter @billyedelin.

WATCH LIVE: St. Bonaventure hosts Saint Louis on NBCSN

St. Bonaventure's Denzel Gregg celebrates after they defeated St. Joseph's after an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Philadelphia.  (Charles Fox/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP) PHIX OUT; TV OUT; MAGS OUT; NEWARK OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
(Charles Fox/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
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St. Bonaventure is looking to keep pace with the Atlantic 10’s elite as they host Saint Louis on Sunday afternoon. You can watch this A-10 contest live on NBCSN at 2:00 p.m. EST.

Coming off of a huge road win at Saint Joseph’s, the Bonnies (14-6, 6-3) have won two consecutive games with a winnable stretch of two more before a key conference clash with George Washington. The trio of Marcus Posley (19.1 ppg), Jaylen Adams (18.5 ppg) and Dion Wright (16.2 ppg) has been putting up a ton of points this season and slowing down that group will be the focal point of the Saint Louis defense.

The Billikens (8-13, 3-6) are coming off of two consecutive double-digit losses and will try to regroup on the road. Senior guard Ash Yacoubou paces the Saint Louis offense at 12.2 points per game and junior guard Mike Crawford (10.9 ppg) is the only other player averaging double-figures.

These two teams will play again on March 5 when the Bonnies head to the Midwest.

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Some conference matchups play out before football

Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, left, reacts after scoring a basket against Utah during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Oregon defeated Utah 77-59. (AP Photo/George Frey)
(AP Photo/George Frey)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Utah at No. 16 Oregon, 4:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:

Utah suffered one of the worst losses I’ve seen in a while on Thursday night, when Brandon Taylor, for some unknown reason, decided to foul an Oregon State player firing up a half court prayer at the buzzer. The Utes, who are arguably the second-best team in the Pac-12, will look to bounce-back on Sunday against the best team in the Pac-12, No. 16 Oregon at 4:00 p.m.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. No. 12 SMU will attempt to stay atop the American standings as they travel to South Florida. While the Mustangs won the first matchup between these two teams at home by 14, they’ve dropped their last two games on the road.

2. A few more American contests are going down as East Carolina travels to UConn and Houston heads to Tulsa. The game between the Cougars and Golden Hurricane is especially interesting because both teams are sitting two games back of SMU and trying to make a move on the postseason.

3. No. 5 Iowa continues the soft part of the schedule as they face Illinois on the road. The Hawkeyes posted recent easy victories over Northwestern and Penn State and will be heavily favored again on Sunday.

4. Could be an intriguing game as No. 17 Miami travels to Georgia Tech. Although the Yellow Jackets aren’t a major contender in the ACC, they’ve been tough this season, especially at home. The Hurricanes fell victim to Georgia Tech last season while they were ranked by Marcus Georges-Hunt has to get back on track after a recent slump for that to happen.

5. There is an Atlantic 10 game that will be featured on NBCSN on Sunday: Saint Louis at St. Bonaventure (2:00 p.m.).

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.