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"I think it's about believing, and we want them to believe," said coach Brad Stevens, whose home gym is Hinkle Fieldhouse, the place where the classic hardwood movie 'Hoosiers' was filmed. "You know people say 'This is unbelievable.' But when you know these guys, it's not unbelievable. It's believable."
Though UConn and Kentucky each struggled at times this season, they've had Final Four pedigrees for years (decades when it comes to the Wildcats) and they lived up to them this month.
Connecticut was 9-9 in the Big East this season, but won an unprecedented five games in five days in the conference tournament to win its first big trophy of March. The big question was whether the Huskies, led by one of the nation's best players in Kemba Walker, would have enough energy to keep things going in the NCAAs.
Short answer: Yes.
They held off Arizona 65-63 on Saturday and are in the Final Four for the fourth time since 1999.
"I've been fortunate over 39 years to have a lot of teams do a lot of different things," coach Jim Calhoun said, "but never could I imagine the team winning nine games in tournament play in 19 days."
To win No. 10, UConn (30-9) must beat Kentucky, a team led by three freshmen that might, nonetheless, have its biggest star on the bench. Coach John Calipari joined Rick Pitino as the only coaches to lead three different programs to the Final Four.
Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones are the three freshmen who helped the Wildcats (29-8) get to the Final Four for the first time since their 1998 national title team.
This was a team that lost four out of seven earlier this season and looked every bit as close to the tournament bubble as a national championship. Since then, the Wildcats have won 10 straight, including the 76-69 win over North Carolina on Sunday.
"We got Kentucky back," senior forward Josh Harrelson said. "A lot of people really didn't think we would be the team we are. We know we struggled early in the season, lost a couple of close games that we should have won. And you know, we really pulled it together as a team. And, you know, we're back now."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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