From staff and wire reports
West Virginia has a tough draw today in its first game in the Big East Tournament.
The reigning national champs.
Ninth-seeded UConn (19-12) will play the eighth-seeded Mountaineers (19-12) in a second round contest today at Madison Square Garden.
The game will tipoff at noon, with a broadcast on ESPN.
Connecticut’s start to the 2012 Big East tournament on Tuesday looked a lot like the way the Huskies began last year’s incredible run that ended with a conference title and a national championship.
Coach Jim Calhoun was on the sideline again, just eight days after undergoing back surgery. The Huskies, again the tournament’s ninth seed, had a guard leading the way, but this time it was Jeremy Lamb, not Kemba Walker, who led UConn against 16th-seeded DePaul.
Lamb scored 25 points and Ryan Boatright added 19 to lead Connecticut to an 81-67 victory over the Blue Demons Tuesday in the opening round of the Big East tournament.
Calhoun missed eight games late in the season after being diagnosed with spinal stenosis, and the Huskies won only three of those.
“It’s been a different kind of season. But through it all, somewhat by separation, I realized how much I care about these kids,” Calhoun said. “The pain is a different kind of pain, it’s a muscular pain and I’m not walking with a cane anymore. I couldn’t walk with a cane on the sidelines because the officials might have been hit. There was always the fear of pain of some sort but to alleviate that pain was incredible.”
It was Calhoun’s 34th career win the Big East tournament, passing Georgetown’s John Thompson for sole possession of second place behind the 46 of Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim.
The Mountaineers have won 16 of their last 24 games at Madison Square Garden. WVU is 31-43 all-time at MSG.
West Virginia has won 11 of its last 17 Big East Championship games, including all three in 2010 for its first league title.
WVU has reached the semifinals in three of the four Big East Championships under Bob Huggins. WVU has reached the semifinals in four of the last seven championships with a Big East Championship finals appearance in 2005.