Walker’s supporting cast: Other UConn starters have risen to the occasion

One man gets all the attention, and deservedly so. Kemba Walker is the vast majority of Connecticut’s offense.

But he isn’t everything. With seven minutes remaining in Connecticut’s two-point Elite Eight win over Arizona, Walker was demanding plays for freshman Jeremy Lamb, as reported by Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples.

So, who will be Walker’s supporting cast — the group counted on — should UK hyperfocus on shutting down Walker? Here’s a look:

Jeremy Lamb, freshman forward

Lamb has become the steadiest sidekick for Connecticut, ranking second on the team in minutes played (27.5) and points (11.1) per game. Walker can’t score every time down the floor; having a strong second option makes Connecticut tougher to guard. In the Maui game, Lamb took two shots — “Lamb wasn’t even a factor then,” head coach Jim Calhoun said — but he’ll be a much bigger factor. Sports Illustrated named him the X factor for Connecticut in the Final Four game.

Alex Oriakhi, sophomore center

Oriakhi is the inside presence, standing at a listed 6-foot-9 and scoring 9.6 points per game. He leads the team with 8.8 rebounds per game, part of Connecticut’s effectiveness crashing the board — they rank seventh in the nation at offensive rebounding percentage.

After containing Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller, UK has to feel good about its chances battling Oriakhi in the paint. Oriakhi isn’t the focal point of the offense, although he is capable of creating offense. What will be interesting is how Oriakhi defends Harrellson when he is stretched to the perimeter and has to guard ball screens and pick-and-rolls.

“Oriakhi is really explosive, really strong and physical,” Harrellson said.

Shabazz Napier, freshman point guard

Napier is another freshman who has improved as postseason play started up. He doesn’t start, but he averages 23.6 minutes and 8 points per game, fourth-most on the team. Walker usually is the primary ball handler, but Napier has allowed him the opportunity to play off the ball more often.

“Shabazz has been sensational this year,” Jim Calhoun said. “He’s taken a lot of pressure off Kemba this year.”

Roscoe Smith, freshman forward

Smith averages 25.4 minutes, 6.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. His highlight of the year: in Connecticut’s win over Texas in January, Smith came down with a defensive rebound with 11.8 seconds left and the two teams tied. He promptly turned around and heaved the ball the length of the floor with 11 seconds remaining, missing badly.

“He threw that up and everyone was like, ‘Oh my god, Roscoe,’” Napier said after that game.