Sophomore forward Dillon Mitchell posted a career-best 21 points, but Texas dropped an 81-71 decision to UConn on Monday night in the championship game of the Saatva Empire Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Mitchell converted a career-best 9-of-12 field goals while adding a game-high eight rebounds (four offensive) and tied a career high with two blocks in a career-best 37 minutes. Junior guard Tyrese Hunter registered all 13 of his points in the second half while adding a season-high seven assists without a turnover and a season-best five rebounds in 32 minutes.
Graduate guard Ithiel Horton recorded 11 points (4-9 FG) in 25 minutes, and graduate guard Max Abmas posted 10 points and five assists against just one turnover in 35 minutes. Abmas earned a spot on the five-person All-Tournament team after he knocked down the game-winning jumper with 0.4 seconds left in Sunday’s victory over Louisville.
UConn jumped out to a 9-2 advantage following a layup by Alex Karaban at the 17:27 mark. The Longhorns trimmed the deficit to 14-9 after a Mitchell dunk with 14:42 remaining, before the Huskies went on a 13-2 run over the next three minutes to build a 27-11 cushion following a Donovan Clingan three-point play at the 11:21 mark. Texas pulled to within 39-29 after a Brock Cunningham three-pointer with 3:24 left and again cut the gap to 10 points (42-32) following a Chendall Weaver three-point play with 1:31 remaining, but UConn scored four of the final five points of the half to take a 46-33 lead at the break.
Texas started the second half with a 5-0 spurt to trim the margin to 46-38 after a Mitchell jumper at the 19:20 mark and later closed to within six points (56-50) following a Ze’Rik Onyema three-point play with 14:33 remaining. The Huskies increased their cushion to 71-57 after a Clingan put-back at the 7:24 mark, before the Longhorns went on a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to 71-67 following a Horton three-pointer with 5:24 left. Trailing 75-69 following a Hunter dunk at the 3:39 mark, Texas had three opportunities to cut further into the lead but UConn closed out the contest with a 6-2 run.
Texas returns to the court when it hosts Wyoming (4-1) on Sunday, Nov. 26. Tip is scheduled for 2 p.m.