What a difference the three pointer makes in the NCAA Tournament. When you can light it up from outside, you're almost bound to win any game you play, and this was true for Kemba Walker (4 for 8 on threes) and Jeremy Lamb (nailing all three of his triples, including the biggest one of the game with under two minutes left). San Diego State's perimeter defense seemed to sag away to focus on the inside, and Walker and Lamb made them pay with 50% shooting from the outside against the 33rd best three point defense in the country.
The Aztecs, by contrast, were 7 for 22 from beyond the stripe, as too many of their possessions devolved into one-on-one isolations. D.J. Gay hit four of the three pointers, but the usually reliable Chase Tapley went one for seven and Kawhi Leonard (a poor three point shooter) about matched his career three point percentage by going one for four. His decision to launch a triple to try and give SDSU the lead with under two minutes left was ill-advised.
San Diego State also went 6 for 13 from the line, as Malcolm Thomas missed three freebies, Billy White two, Gay and Tapley one each. UConn was 12 for 15, Walker nailing 8 of his 10. Despite SDSU grabbing 15 offensive rebounds, they allowed UConn to get nine of their own and couldn't nail enough shots to take control of the game. Give credit to Connecticut's defense, but the Aztecs inflicted as much damage on themselves offensively with their inability to move the ball and get better looks inside.
For UConn, Walker finished with 36, but Lamb was just as important with 24 on only 11 shots from the field. Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith combined for 17 of UConn's 35 rebounds. The Aztecs had four scorers in double digits: Gay (16 points), White (14 points), Thomas (13 points, 8 rebounds), Leonard (12 points, 9 rebounds).