MILWAUKEE (AP) - Kemba Walker took shot after shot without much success. Good thing Connecticut is a whole lot more than a one-man show.
Freshman Jeremy Lamb had a career-best 24 points and the fifth-ranked Huskies overcame Walker's tough shooting game with a 13-0 run late in the second half to beat Marquette 76-68 on Tuesday night.
``He's just putting in the time and it's paying off. He's been in the gym every night. He's been up early to lift weights,' Walker said of Lamb. ``All that stuff is just paying off now.'
That's because all the Huskies follow Kemba's lead, and when he slumped, Lamb, Shabazz Napier and Roscoe Smith lifted Connecticut to another road win. Walker missed his first five shots and finished with a season-low 14 points on 5-of-16 shooting.
The dynamic junior guard came in averaging 25 points per game, second in the nation, but still had a big impact with nine assists and six rebounds.
``Kemba made the biggest adjustment of all. Early he wanted to get us off to a good start, then when that wasn't working, he tried to feed everybody,' Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said. ``His personality and character is what helps make this team go every single day.'
Connecticut (17-2, 5-2 Big East) looks poised to go quite far in March. Lamb, Napier and Smith - all freshmen - had big games to help put Connecticut over the top in a back-and-forth second half.
``It definitely makes it easier on us when they're keying in on Kemba,' Lamb said. ``Everybody else on the team right now basically is trying to make them pay.'
The Huskies won their third road game in five tries this season after going 2-10 away from home last season and proved to be too tough down the stretch, holding Marquette (13-8, 4-4) without a field goal for nearly 10 minutes.
Jimmy Butler scored 21 points for the Golden Eagles.
``We were so concerned on offense that we were ready to get the ball back and try to score on that end,' Butler said. ``We weren't even worried about guarding them on the defensive end of the floor.'
Trailing 60-55, Lamb, Napier and Walker took control.
Lamb hit two jumpers, Napier made a 3-pointer and Walker added two tough baskets that made it 68-60 with 2:26 left and the Golden Eagles never got closer than six points the rest of the way.
Smith and Napier finished with 11 points apiece.
``Kemba Walker will be national player of the year, but we can't be foolish enough to think that he's the exclusive reason why they've only lost two games,' Marquette coach Buzz Williams said.
Lamb finished 9 of 14 from the field and 3 of 4 from 3-point range.
``We were only down five points and (Coach) let us know the game wasn't over yet. We grew up a little bit. We were able to run some plays. We hit some big shots. After that, we kept going,' Lamb said.
Marquette took its five-point lead with a 13-3 spurt capped when Butler grabbed an offensive rebound, scored and was fouled to make it 56-51 with 11:24 left. But that was Marquette's last field goal until Darius Johnson-Odom's layup cut Connecticut's lead to 70-63 with 1:47 to play.
The Golden Eagles missed seven consecutive shots and committed three turnovers down the stretch.
Johnson-Odom finished with 18 points, Dwight Buycks had 13 and Jae Crowder 10 for the Golden Eagles. Every time Marquette made a run to erase Connecticut's lead, the Huskies would battle back.
Marquette tied the game at 43 early in the second half, but Walker found Lamb in the left corner for a 3-pointer, then Charles Okwandu, who finished with 10 rebounds, started a fast break that ended with Walker splitting the defense with a sprawling layup, setting the stage for the Golden Eagles' final push.
Butler went over 1,000 points with his first basket of the game late in the first half to become the 42nd player in school history to reach the milestone.
After road losses to ranked opponents Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, Connecticut beat then-No. 12 Texas in overtime and overwhelmed DePaul before this victory. The Huskies still have tough travel dates at Louisville, Cincinnati and West Virginia later this season.
``Everybody keeps doubting us, but we just keep on winning,' Walker said. ``We keep finding ways to win.'
The Associated Press News Service
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