UConn wins record 24th nonconference game in row by double digits

UConn wins record 24th nonconference game in row by double digits

UConn wins record 24th nonconference game in row by double digits

ByJEFF BORZELLO

November 27, 2023, 9:39 PM

    Led by a career-high 29 points from Donovan Clingan, No. 4 UConn cruised to an 84-64 win over  New Hampshire on Monday — setting a new NCAA record in the process.

    The win marked the Huskies' 24th straight nonconference victory by double digits, breaking a tie with 2008-09 North Carolina.

    The record dates back to the start of last season and includes all six of UConn's NCAA tournament games during its national championship run.

    According to ESPN Stats & Information research, North Carolina's 23 straight double-digit wins over nonconference opponents from November 2008 to November 2009 was the longest such streak since 1950.

    Like the Tar Heels, UConn's streak included a dominant run to the national championship. The Huskies won all 11 of their nonconference games by double digits last season, ascending as high as No. 2 in the AP poll. After finishing in a tie for fourth place in the Big East, UConn received a 4-seed in the NCAA tournament and immediately began playing like the team that blew everyone out during the first half of the season.

    The Huskies won their six games en route to the national championship by an average of 20.0 points, the fourth largest average margin since the NCAA tournament expanded in 1985. They were the fifth team since 1985 to win all six of their tournament games by double digits, capped off with a 76-59 win over  San Diego State in the title game.

    “It's been unbelievable, from last nonconference season, these guys have just been awesome,” coach Dan Hurley said after last week's win over Texas. “We are unique with the way that we play. I think we're unique with the way we play offense, just having the two high-level centers. I just think the program has got so much confidence. You win a national championship, you step onto the court with just a lot of belief that you're supposed to win. And we're pretty relentless. The coach is relentless, the players are relentless.

    “We're going to try to beat you by as many as we can beat you by.”

    Despite the loss of three starters and an injury to projected lottery pick Stephon Castle, UConn's momentum to end last season carried over to 2023-24. Entering Monday, the Huskies ranked third nationally in scoring margin, beating teams by an average of 29.5 points per game. Only one opponent — Texas — has lost by fewer than 20 points.

    “Obviously, it's in the back of our heads,” sophomore center Clingan told reporters after Friday's win over Manhattan. “We're trying to go be a part of history and do something no team has done.”

    There was very little drama involved in Monday's win. New Hampshire scored the first points of the game, but UConn went on a 16-0 run in the opening 10 minutes and cruised from there. The Wildcats cut the lead to single digits with 5:03 left in the first half, but never got closer — and UConn left zero doubt about the margin of victory. The Huskies led by at least 15 points for the entirety of the second half.

    Clingan scored 16 first-half points and connected on his first 10 attempts from the field, finishing with a career-high 29 points and seven rebounds. Cam Spencer and Tristen Newton complemented the big man with 17 points apiece..

    UConn will look to continue the streak in perhaps its most difficult nonconference game of the past two seasons: Friday's road trip to face  Kansas in the Big East-Big 12 Battle. The two teams have played each other only once previously, a 73-61 win by Kansas in the 2016 NCAA tournament.

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