UConn tops Texas, nears nonconference record

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


    • Basketball recruiting insider.
    • Joined ESPN successful 2014.
    • Graduate of University of Delaware.

NEW YORK -- The result of Monday's Empire Classic rubric crippled betwixt No. 5 UConn and No. 15 Texas wasn't successful uncertainty erstwhile Cam Spencer stepped to the enactment with 41 seconds near and the Huskies starring by eight.

But the reigning nationalist champions had their eyes connected thing bigger -- and for that, Spencer's escaped throws were imperative.

The Rutgers transportation deed some escaped throws, past deed 2 much 10 seconds aboriginal and UConn came retired with an 81-71 win implicit the Longhorns.

It was UConn's 22nd consecutive triumph implicit a nonconference hostile by a double-digit margin, dating backmost to the commencement of past play and including the Huskies' ascendant tally done the NCAA tournament.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, North Carolina's 23 consecutive double-digit wins implicit nonconference opponents from Nov. 2008 to Nov. 2009 is the longest specified streak successful the past 40 years.

UConn's adjacent 2 games are astatine location against Manhattan connected Friday and New Hampshire adjacent Monday. Win both, and the Huskies person the record.

When informed by ESPN aft Monday's crippled that his squad was present 2 wins from the record, UConn manager Dan Hurley responding jokingly: "We play the time aft Thanksgiving, truthful we're canceling Thanksgiving. We're not going to fto these guys devour the turkey. Be each sluggish and s--- the adjacent day."

UConn established itself arsenic the champion squad successful the state during the archetypal fractional of past season, winning each 11 of its nonconference games by double-digits. After an up-and-down Big East campaign, the Huskies received a 4-seed successful the NCAA tourney -- and promptly won six games en way to the nationalist title by an mean of 20.0 points, the fourth-largest mean borderline since the tourney expanded successful 1985. They were the 5th squad since 1985 to triumph each six of its NCAA tourney games by double-digits.

"It's been unbelievable, from past nonconference season, these guys person conscionable been awesome," Hurley said Monday. "We are unsocial with the mode that we play. I deliberation we're unsocial with the mode we play offense, conscionable having the 2 high-level centers. I conscionable deliberation the programme has got truthful overmuch confidence. You triumph a nationalist championship, you measurement onto the tribunal with conscionable a batch of content that you're expected to win. And we're beauteous relentless. The manager is relentless, the players are relentless.

"We're going to effort to bushed you by arsenic galore arsenic we tin bushed you by."

UConn's streak was successful information precocious successful Monday's title crippled against Texas, arsenic the Longhorns chopped what was erstwhile a 16-point pb down to 4 points successful the 2nd half. They were connected a 10-0 tally and had each the momentum aft Ithiel Horton deed a 3-pointer with 5:24 remaining.

But redshirt sophomore guardant Alex Karaban responded with six consecutive UConn points -- 3 clutch baskets, including a fadeaway baseline jumper precocious successful the changeable timepiece -- to spark a 10-2 UConn tally to enactment the crippled retired of reach.

Karaban finished with a team-high 20 points successful his continued emergence arsenic a go-to feline pursuing the departures of NBA draught picks Jordan Hawkins and Andre Jackson and All-American large antheral Adama Sanogo.

"I learned from Jordan (Hawkins) and each those guys conscionable to spot your enactment and conscionable to ever person confidence," Karaban said. "I saw it mundane successful their work, I saw it mundane successful practice. They were ever hitting those shots, they ever trusted their skills. And it translated to the game."

With prima large antheral Donovan Clingan saddled with foul occupation and constricted to 13 minutes, Hurley turned to Samson Johnson disconnected the bench. Johnson responded with a career-high 15 points and 8 rebounds, perpetually making highlight-reel plays astatine some ends of the floor.

"That's wherefore we play astatine UConn," Johnson said. "Moments similar that."