Both teams were absent their primary big men. Two proud programs playing a solid out-of-league game before tuning up for conference play. It was an intriguing game, perhaps the most curious of any Tuesday night.
And in Austin, 9-3 Connecticut defeated 8-4 Texas 71-66.
For the Huskies, this amounts to their biggest win this season. It’s their first road victory, and to beat a Texas team that was riding a six-game winning streak that included defeats of North Carolina and Stanford, this amounts to certain NCAA Tournament insurance for the Huskies. Yeah, Texas didn’t have Cameron Ridley — but UConn didn’t have Amida Brimah. So it cancels out. This game will be judged as if both teams were at full strength.
Rodney Purvis, who has shown flashes, was a catalyst for Connecticut. He had 18 points and helped pace Kevin Ollie’s team to a fourth straight win. If SMU is the best team in the AAC, UConn could figure to be close behind pretty soon. The Huskies open AAC play at Tulane, then get home tilts against Temple and Memphis.
Texas is building an interesting outline to its season. The UNC win is the centerpiece, while three of the four losses are respectable, to Texas A&M and Michigan (which fell to UConn). UT opened 2015-16 with a loss against Washington in China. Shaka Smart’s club is going to have some skids, but overall the results have been pretty good. We’ll now get to see how Texas factors in the Big 12, which is currently performing like the best league in the country.