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Cam Spencer scored 23 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out six assists to lead fifth-ranked UConn to an 87-76 win over No. 9 North Carolina in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday night.
In their third match at Madison Square Garden this year, the Huskies (8-1) bounced back from a four-point defeat against then-No. 5 Kansas last week. The reigning NCAA title holders were victorious in this competition for the first time in five attempts.
Coach Dan Hurley of the Huskies expressed his satisfaction with their recent schedule, stating that they achieved everything they wanted to. The atmosphere was fantastic and they faced one of the top teams in the country, making it a great test after their disappointing loss to Kansas on the road. The impressive performance reflects the strength of their team this year.
In the first half of the game, Spencer successfully made 8 out of 14 shots and earned a total of 16 points. This helped the Huskies secure their lead for the rest of the game. Despite struggling with a foot injury during a previous game at Kansas, Spencer managed to score his second-highest number of points this season.
Spencer expressed his strong desire and determination to contribute to the team in any way possible. He believed that the team stepped up their game and showed great intensity, especially after the previous game against Kansas. He expressed pride in the team’s performance and credited everyone for showing up and giving their best effort.
Alex Karaban scored 18 points, with 14 of them coming in the second quarter. He also had nine rebounds and five assists.
Karaban stated that he focused on making successful moves and impacting the game, rather than solely focusing on shooting. This mindset aided in regaining his confidence.
Tristen Newton earned 14 points and first-year player Solomon Ball achieved a season-high of 13 points, while the Huskies had a 51.5% shooting percentage.
In the game, RJ Davis scored 26 points and Harrison Ingram contributed 20 points to lead the Tar Heels (7-2). Despite Armando Bacot’s 13 points and 13 rebounds, North Carolina was unable to match the Huskies’ performance, shooting only 39% in the second half and 44% overall.
“We had opportunities,” stated coach Hubert Davis. “Unfortunately, we were unable to capitalize on them.”
The University of Connecticut began to extend their lead in the beginning of the second half, reaching a score of 62-49 after Spencer made a shot just as the shot clock ran out at 14:27 remaining. North Carolina managed to close the gap to five points with a jumper from Davis at the 11:02 mark, but the Huskies responded with a 18-6 run, giving them a comfortable 83-66 lead with three minutes remaining.
North Carolina recently faced another power conference team in its fourth non-conference game and had its lowest scoring performance of the season. The team holds a record of 0-2 against Big East teams and 2-0 against the SEC.
Stephon Castle received a warm welcome back from the UConn crowd after recovering from a knee injury. The much-anticipated freshman made a valuable contribution with three points and four rebounds in just 11 minutes as a substitute. Castle had been sidelined for six games due to a knee injury that required a minor operation.
On December 16, North Carolina will be playing against Kentucky in Atlanta as the 16th ranked team.
UConn will have a home game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday and then face No. 7 Gonzaga in Seattle on December 15th.
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The Associated Press (AP) has released its latest rankings for college basketball, which can be found at https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball.