Azzi Fudd's 32-point 'player-of-the-year performance' lifts UConn over Texas

Azzi Fudd drops 32 to lead UConn past Texas in top-5 showdown (2:25)

No. 5 UConn takes down No. 3 Texas behind a 32-point performance by Azzi Fudd. (2:25)

STORRS -- In the eyes of UConn women's basketball head coach Geno Auriemma, no player has more weight on her shoulders with 2020-21 player of the year Paige Bueckers out for the season than guard Azzi Fudd.

And in the first major test of her sophomore campaign, Fudd delivered big time for the Huskies, as her career-high 32 points lifted No. 5 UConn over No. 3 Texas 83-76 on Monday night in both squads' first major nonconference matchup of the season.

Fudd's barrage through the first two games of 2022-23 (26 against Northeastern, 58 total) marks the most points any UConn player has scored through the first two games of a season over the past 20 years, surpassing Diana Taurasi's total of 57 through the first two games of 2003-04.

Fudd's 32 points are also tied for the most a UConn player has ever scored against a top-five opponent. Taurasi also dropped that amount against No. 2 Tennessee in 2002.

"There's not enough Tylenol for me to take after watching that," Texas coach Vic Schaefer said about Fudd's onslaught. "She's really good, really good. Special."

"Obviously, she didn't do it single-handedly by herself," Auriemma said. "But that was an All-American performance today. That's, like, player-of-the-year performance there tonight."

Fudd had a fairly quiet first half, with just 10 points on 5-8 shooting, including one 3-point attempt. Tasked with bringing the ball up more due to Lou Lopez Sénéchal's foul trouble, she struggled with six turnovers in the first 20 minutes.

Fudd proceeded to score 22 second-half points, including 17 of the Huskies' 20 points in the fourth quarter. She sank 4 of 6 3s after halftime.

"I don't know why I didn't shoot much in the first half, but I was open a couple of times, my teammates kept telling me to shoot and I let 'em go in the second half and they went in," Fudd said. "I think we settled more in the second half. We were able to run more stuff."

Auriemma said he told her at the beginning of the season that she'd have to be a little bit like Bueckers and a little bit like herself to provide what the team needs.

"She goes, 'That's a lot, coach ... but it's not something I can't handle,'" Auriemma said. "Well, she's starting to find out now it's going to be a b---- to handle that. But if you're as good as she is, you live for those moments, right?"

Texas, which was without star point guard and reigning Big 12 freshman of the year Rori Harmon (day-to-day, toe), led for 6:50 in the first half. But aside from the final four minutes of the game, when the Longhorns managed to cut a 17-point deficit to seven, UConn was mostly in control after the first quarter.

DePaul transfer Sonya Morris led the Longhorns with 21 points, including 5 3s.

"We've got to be better defensively," said Schaefer, whose teams are known for their defense. "Usually that's the last thing you get during the course of the season, and with so many new players ... we'll be a lot better tomorrow because of tonight, but we'll be a lot better team in February."

UConn (2-0) is 9-1 versus top-five teams dating back to the 2013-14 season.

Texas (1-1) next travels to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis, a field that also includes ranked teams Louisville and Tennessee. The Huskies will host another top-10 opponent, No. 10 NC State, on Sunday at the XL Center with an eye toward cleaning up some of their mistakes from Monday.

"Nika [Muhl] said it best probably," Auriemma said. "She said, 'I think that we learned [Monday] that we could be really, really good, and we could be really, really bad.'"