UConn vs Texas Game Preview and Pick: Longhorns Sluggish to Start

Feast Week is truly the gift that keeps giving every year, and it’s no different this year, with college basketball fans being treated to some incredible non-conference matchups. To start Thanksgiving week, there is a loaded slate of games, including the reigning champion UConn Huskies taking on the Texas Longhorns in Madison Square Garden.

The Huskies have picked up where they left off last season, and after beating Indiana by 20 yesterday, I think they’re primed to build an early lead tonight over the Longhorns.

Game Preview

Like most National Champions, the UConn Huskies lost a few vital pieces of their team in the offseason, like sharpshooter Jordan Hawkins. Even with a loss like that, the Huskies offense still looks like one of the best in the country. Through four games, the Huskies are averaging 91.5 points per game, helping them rank 5th in adjusted offensive rating on KenPom.

Even after losing star freshman Stephon Castle to injury following the second game of the season, UConn still went up against an Indiana team yesterday and finished with an offensive efficiency of 117.5. Transfer guard Cam Spencer has provided a high level of scoring production many thought the Huskies would lose when Hawkins entered the draft. The former Rutger Scarlet Knight is averaging 15.8 points per game while shooting an impressive 46.4% from three.

Between Spencer and leading scorer Tristen Newton on the perimeter and Donovan Clingan down low, the Huskies can attack opposing defenses from multiple spots on the floor. That trio will take on a Texas team that also played their first power five opponent yesterday, with the only difference being the Longhorns struggled in the game and snuck by Louisville in a narrow 81-80 victory.

Through their first three games of the year, the Longhorns dominated opponents on both ends of the floor, but yesterday, they finished the game with a 117.6 defensive efficiency. In games like yesterday’s, it helps that the Longhorns roster is very experienced and features two big-time transfer scoring threats in Max Abmas and Kadin Shedrick.

Ithiel Horton is another big transfer addition to the team, and his 54.1% field goal percentage this season has helped the Longhorns rank 15th in effective field goal percentage at 59.3%.

Pick for the Game

UConn goes into their second game of the Empire Classic as (-6.5) point favorites, but for my play, I’ll be taking their first-half spread of (-2.5). The Huskies have flat-out been better on both ends of the floor to start the season, and I trust their defense more in a game against an equally talented opponent.

Donovan Clingan will be the most dominant defensive player on the floor, and Texas has yet to face an opponent this season that can alter shots as he can. A guy like Kadin Shedrick was able to dominate a Louisville defense that is 201st in adjusted defensive rating on KenPom, but getting clean looks against UConn will be far more difficult. Not only are the Huskies 6th in adjusted defensive rating, but they are also 24th in blocks and 30th in defensive rebounding percentage.

Defensively, the Longhorns are 61st in points allowed in the first half, but they are also 95th in opponent offensive rebounding percentage, so the Huskies could be looking at a lot of second-chance looks tonight. UConn’s offense averages 45 first-half points per game this season, and I think they have more true scoring options like Alex Karaban, whose efficient scoring could give the Texas defense a lot of trouble.


  • UConn Huskies 1H (-2.5)(-115) on BetMGM

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