HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -Connecticut has gone through the entire postseason without injured guard Jerome Dyson, won an NCAA tournament game without its coach, and won two others while allegations of a recruiting scandal swirled around the program.
Maybe that's why the Huskies don't seemed concerned about having to play a national semifinal Saturday against Michigan State less than 90 miles from the Spartans campus in Detroit.
``It's been a great hill to climb,'' said coach Jim Calhoun.
M 92-66.
The Huskies won 72-60, then went on to beat Missouri 82-75 to earn the school's third trip to the Final Four.
``They have mental and physical toughness,'' said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.
The Huskies came into the tournament having dropped three of seven games after losing Dyson to a knee injury late in the regular season, and then losing a six-overtime thriller to Syracuse in the Big East tournament.
It was the Huskies fifth consecutive postseason loss, dating back to 2006, when UConn was upset by George Mason in the regional finals. UConn went 17-14 in 2007 and missed the NCAA tournament.
But Calhoun said his team was toughened by that season, which may have helped them overcome some of this year's adversity.
``These kids have stayed with it and that's what has made this really, really special,'' Calhoun said Monday. ``They stayed with a situation that was very, very difficult and stayed focused.''
That's something Calhoun said the Huskies will need to do in Detroit, where he expects the majority of the 78,000 fans will be rooting for Michigan State.
Connecticut had the best road record in the nation during the regular season, its only road loss coming at Pittsburgh.
UConn will come into Saturday's game a bit banged up. Center Hasheem Thabeet has a bruised finger and Jeff Adrien could miss practice with some tendinitis, but Calhoun said both should be ready to play Saturday.
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