UConn tops Texas, nears nonconference record

  • Jeff Borzello, ESPN Personnel WriterNov 21, 2023, 12:11 AM ET


    • Basketball recruiting expert.
    • Signed up with ESPN in 2014.
    • Graduate of University of Delaware.NEW YORK– The

outcome of Monday’s Empire Classic title game between No. 5 UConn and No. 15 Texas wasn’t in doubt when Web cam Spencer stepped to the line with 41 seconds left and the Huskies leading by eight.But the ruling nationwide champions

had their eyes on something bigger– and for that, Spencer’s totally free tosses were imperative.The Rutgers transfer struck both totally free throws, then hit 2 more 10 seconds later on and UConn came out with an 81-71 win over the Longhorns.It was UConn’s 22nd straight win over a nonconference opponent by a double-digit margin, going back to the start of last season and consisting of the Huskies ‘dominant run through the NCAA tournament.According to ESPN Statistics & Info, North Carolina’s 23 straight double-digit wins over nonconference challengers from Nov. 2008 to Nov. 2009 is the

longest such streak in the past 40 years.UConn’s next 2 games are at home against Manhattan on Friday and New Hampshire next Monday. Win both, and the Huskies have the record.When informed by ESPN after Monday’s game that his group was now two wins from the record, UConn coach Dan Hurley responding jokingly:”We play the day after Thanksgiving, so we’re canceling Thanksgiving. We’re not going to let these guys eat the turkey. Be all slow and s– the next day.”UConn established itself as the very best group in the nation throughout the very first half of last season, winning all 11 of its nonconference games by double-digits. After an up-and-down Big East project, the Huskies got a 4-seed in the NCAA competition– and without delay won 6 games en route to the national championship by approximately 20.0 points, the fourth biggest average margin given that the competition expanded in 1985. They were the 5th group because 1985 to win all six of its NCAA competition games by double-digits. Editor’s Picks 2 Related “It’s been unbelievable, from last nonconference season, these guys have actually simply been amazing,”Hurley said Monday.” We are special with the manner in which we play. I believe we’re unique with the way we play offense, simply having the

2 top-level centers. I just think

the program has got a lot self-confidence. You win a championship game, you step onto the court with just a lot of belief that you’re expected to win. And we’re quite relentless. The coach is relentless, the players are ruthless. “We’re going to try to beat you by as lots of as we can beat you by.”UConn’s streak remained in danger late in Monday’s national championship versus Texas, as the Longhorns cut what was as soon as a 16-point lead down to four points in the second half. They were on a 10-0 run and had all the momentum after Ithiel Horton struck a 3-pointer with 5:24 remaining.But redshirt sophomore forward Alex Karaban reacted with six straight UConn points– 3 clutch baskets, including a fadeaway standard jumper late in the shot clock– to spark a 10-2 UConn run to put the game out of reach.Karaban completed with a team-high 20 points in his continued development as a go-to guy following the departures

of NBA draft selects Jordan Hawkins and Andre Jackson and All-American big male Adama Sanogo.”I gained from Jordan and all those guys just to trust your work and just to always have confidence, “Karaban stated.”I saw it every day in their work, I saw it every day in practice

. They were constantly hitting those shots, they constantly trusted their abilities. And it translated to the game.”With star huge male Donovan Clingan encumbered foul difficulty and restricted to 13 minutes, Hurley turned to Samson Johnson off the bench. Johnson responded with a career-high 15 points and 8 rebounds, constantly making highlight-reel plays at both ends of the floor.”That’s why we dip into UConn, “Johnson said.” Moments like that.”

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