Tue, 05 Dec 2023

No. 5 UConn downs No. 15 Texas for Empire Classic title

Field Level Media
21 Nov 2023, 12:40 GMT+10

(Photo credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

Alex Karaban scored 20 points and hit a clutch jumper with 1:01 to play to help No. 5 UConn outlast No. 15 Texas 81-71 on Monday in the championship game of the Empire Classic in New York.

UConn (5-0) never trailed, building a 16-point lead midway through the first half and leading by 13 at halftime. But the Longhorns (4-1) battled back, drawing to within 71-67 with 5:24 to play thanks to a 10-0 run capped by a 3-pointer from Ithiel Horton.

Texas trailed just 75-69 after Tyrese Hunter's dunk with 3:39 to remaining. However, Karaban poured in a contested jumper just before the final minute as the shot clock was expiring, and the Huskies made their free throws down the stretch to cement the victory.

Cam Spencer added 16 points and Samson Johnson scored 15 for UConn.

Dillon Mitchell scored a career-high 21 points for Texas while Hunter had 13, Horton added 11 and Max Abmas tallied 10. The Longhorns played without center Kadin Shedrick, who was held out due to a shoulder injury.

The Huskies blitzed to a 27-11 lead eight minutes into the game by hitting 10 of their first 13 shots from the floor, including five 3-pointers, with the run capped by a layup from Donovan Clingan.

Texas clawed back to within 10 points on three occasions in the first half, the last after a three-point play by Chendall Weaver with 1:31 to play. Tristen Newton answered with a bucket and two free throws sandwiched around a free throw by Mitchell to allow the Huskies to take a 46-33 advantage into the break.

Mitchell led all scorers before halftime with 15 points, going 6 of 7 from the floor. Johnson paced a balanced UConn attack with 11 points over the first 20 minutes.

Texas got back into the game with a 17-10 surge to start the second half, pulling within 56-50 after Ze'Rik Onyema's three-point play with 14:33 to play. The Huskies answered as a 3-pointer from Karaban and an alley-oop dunk by Johnson off an assist by Hassan Diarra rebuilt the margin to 69-55 at the 9:04 mark.

--Field Level Media

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