Connecticut put the ball in the hands of its security blanket.
Kemba Walker stood at the free-throw line and calmly sank two free throws with 14 seconds left, adding to his pick-me resume for the NBA draft Thursday by running San Diego State in circles during a 74-67 victory in an NCAA tournament West Region semifinal at Honda Center in Anaheim, putting an end to the most successful season in the Aztecs' history.
Walker scored 36 points, 16 in the last nine minutes, to move the Huskies to within one victory of the Final Four. It was the 11th time he has scored 30 or more in a game.
San Diego State pulled to within one, 65-64, with 2 minutes 52 seconds left when D.J. Gay sank a three-pointer. Walker missed a jumper, but Alex Oriakhi got the rebound and found Jeremy Lamb, whose three-pointer gave the Huskies a 68-64 lead with 1:40 left.
Lamb then made a steal as San Diego State tries to get upcourt quickly and hit Shabazz Napier for an uncontested layup and a 70-64 lead with 23 seconds left.
Connecticut (28-9) entered the game with as many NCAA titles as San Diego State had NCAA tournament victories (two). The second-seeded Aztecs (34-3) broke through that ceiling this season, winning their first two tournament games.
But beating Northern Colorado and Temple -- in double overtime -- was child's play compared to spending the day chasing Walker around the court.
Gay, mired in a month-long slump, pushed the Aztecs back into the game, as has been his custom. He sank a three-pointer to start the second half and scored the last five points in an 11-2 run that gave the Aztecs a 43-42 lead with 13 minutes left.
San Diego State led, 53-49, when Walker took over.
Walker scored nine of Connecticut's 11 points during a key stretch that left them leading, 60-54, with six minutes left.
The first two came on free throws after Jamaal Franklin was called for a technical foul with the Aztecs ahead 53-49. Walker hit a three-pointer to cap the pivotal 11-1 run and Connecticut never trailed again.
San Diego State had answers early. Walker missed his first four shots, with different defenders alternating on him. The Aztecs were in their comfort zone, pushing the pace. Billy White's layup finished a fast break for a 22-17 lead with 6:34 left in the half.
Things turned when, with a chance to up the lead, Gay turned the ball over. Connecticut closed the half with a 19-5 run and took a 36-27 lead into the locker room.
Walker was the center of that surge, making three consecutive shots, two of which were three-pointers.