With both the UConn and Texas basketball teams coming into the game ranked in the top 20 of the college basketball rankings, Monday night’s game provided a great opportunity for both teams to get an early statement win. In front of a loud Madison Square Garden crowd, UConn and Alex Karaban used a big first half to knock off the previously undefeated Texas Longhorns.
Coming into this matchup off of a game-winning shot against Louisville, Texas guard Max Abmas provided a big test for the Huskies. UConn not only made him uncomfortable shooting the ball all night, but they also did a good job limiting his ability to help run Texas’ offense.
With the win, UConn captured the Saatva Empire Classic Championship and their first ranked win of the college basketball season.
Alex Karaban, UConn Basketball Hold Off Texas in Saatva Empire Classic
Alex Karaban Provides Spark
UConn forward Alex Karaban may be a sophomore, but he plays like a fifth-year senior. From the opening tip, Karaban was able to space the floor and get himself to his spots behind the arc. When he got the ball, he hit his shots and used his quickness to get into the paint and hit some tough shots.
On the night, Karaban had 20 points and six rebounds while shooting 57% from the field and 50% from deep. On multiple occasions down the stretch, he hit tough contested shots at the end of the shot clock to drive a knife into the hearts of Longhorns fans around the country. Alex Karaban makes scoring look easy and could certainly be the X-factor for the Huskies this season.
UConn Basketball Dominates The Glass
With Texas forward Dylan Disu still out due to injury, UConn had a massive size advantage. Even with that advantage, they were relentlessly crashing the glass on offense and defense. On the night, UConn basketball outrebounded Texas, 40-29. Impressively, UConn didn’t just rely on their size. On every shot, multiple Huskies were flying to the rim to try to come down with the board.
Simply put, if the Huskies are this aggressive every night on the glass, few teams if any can match up with them. They have a ton of scorers and multiple bigs who act more like reinforcements than substitutes. It may be early in the season, but it’s hard to see why the reigning champs shouldn’t be the favorites to win it all again this year.