Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

No. 15 Texas falls to No. 5 UConn, 81-71, in Saatva Empire Classic Championship

Kennedy Weatherby
Junior guard Tyrese Hunter drives to the basket during the game against Rice on Nov. 15. Hunter was the leading scorer for the Longhorns with 18 points.

Just a day after senior guard Max Abmas’ fading jumper helped Texas to squeak by Louisville, the Longhorns couldn’t replicate the magic, losing to the reigning NCAA Champions in the Saatva Empire Classic Championship game.

Shortly before tipoff, the Longhorns announced that graduate student center Kadin Shedrick, whose 27 points helped power Texas past Louisville in the semifinals, would miss the game for precautionary reasons due to a lingering shoulder injury. For a team already down forward Dylan Disu, it made an uphill battle even tougher.

After trailing 16 points in the first half, the Longhorns made an admirable comeback attempt in the second half, shaving the UConn lead to as low as four in the second half. But the Huskies’ size advantage and Texas’ lackluster shooting from deep in the first half proved to be too much to claw back from.

Sophomore forward Dillon Mitchell had one of his best games in burnt orange, scoring a career-high 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field and tacking on eight rebounds. His 15 first-half points kept Texas alive, and he was one of the Longhorns’ more effective defenders both inside and on the perimeter.

The Longhorns trimmed the lead to four with less than six minutes to play in the second half on a three from senior wing Ithiel Horton, but continued cold shooting and some big shots from UConn’s Alex Karaban kept Texas from getting any closer.

Junior guard Tyrese Hunter led the charge with 13 second-half points after being held scoreless in the first half. His backcourt mate, Abmas, knocked down some big shots but attempted some questionable ones and struggled to get into a rhythm, going 4-of-14 from the field and posting a team-low minus-21.

While a loss is a loss, the Longhorns’ resilience and refusal to let Connecticut pull away was encouraging for a team down two starters. Ultimately, the recipe that had Texas winning comfortably in its first three games, knockdown three-point shooting, didn’t make the trip to New York City and it cost Texas a chance at a statement win early in the season.

Sophomore guard Chendall Weaver played sparingly in the second half, but impressed in limited minutes in the first half by displaying his tantalizing athleticism on both ends. The Longhorns opted to go small in the closing minutes of the first half, and Weaver’s defense was admirable against a much bigger UConn lineup.

Additionally, there was a clear improvement from junior forward Ze’Rik Onyema from the first to the second half, as he was thrust back into the starting lineup in Shedrick’s absence. The UTEP transfer struggled with UConn’s bigs early on, but looked much more comfortable defensively later on in a seven-point outing.

UConn missed potential NBA lottery pick Stephon Castle, but forward Samson Johnson picked up the slack for the Huskies. The 6-foot-10-inch forward from Togo gave Texas trouble all night on the interior, posting 15 points and eight rebounds.

Texas, now 4-1, will return to action Sunday when it takes on Wyoming at home.

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