by David Cassilo / @dcassilo

Despite being just a junior, Kemba Walker is the elder statesman in the UConn starting five, and because of that he has the chief responsibility of leading the Huskies back into the NCAA tournament. If Wednesday night’s game against Vermont was any indication of how he will handle that responsibility, then we might want to pencil the Huskies into our brackets already.

Walker torched Vermont for 42 points, 21 in each half, as he shattered his previous career-high of 29 points en route to an 89-73 victory. The 42 points tied the record for the most by a UConn player in Hartford, previously set my Clifford Robinson in 1987.

Even more remarkable, Walker did all this without feeling 100 percent for the entire game.

From TheDay.com:

“We struggled just about the entire game,” coach Jim Calhoun said. “But Kemba’s performance was pretty special. Every time we needed something, he got it. He also led us in rebounding. He played with great determination.

“He got stomach cramps and had them right off the bat. Thank God, he recovered.”

Walker, a projected-first round pick, is a rare anonymous star at UConn due to the team’s lack of success last season. The Bronx native will get his chance this season to show what he can do with an inexperienced supporting cast, and sometimes that means putting up 42 points.

From The Hartford Courant:

Flicking that switch, making the game primarily about one’s self for the benefit of the team, can be a tricky call. But it clearly wasn’t Wednesday, when Walker was surrounded by listless teammates and confronted by defenders who were clearly no match.

“I just had to take matters into my own hands,” said the 6-foot-1 junior. “[Other] guys didn’t want to shoot. That’s what it looked like.”

Walker might need a few more 40-point performances in the near future as the Huskies take part in the Maui Invitational next week, a field that includes Michigan State, Kentucky and Washington.