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Azzi Fudd embraces Geno’s challenge in Paige Bueckers’ absence

(David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

UConn women’s basketball took down No. 3 Texas on Monday, propelled by a monster performance from Azzi Fudd.

Against the Longhorns, the sophomore star put up 32 points. Not only was that number a career high, it also is tied for the most any UConn player has scored against a top-five opponent. Diana Taurasi dropped the same 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 performance. “She’s really good, really good. Special.”

In her performance, Fudd showcased that she can be part of the piece that is missing in Paige Bueckers’ absence. UConn coach Geno Auriemma told Fudd she would need to be a little bit like Bueckers to help the team in the absence of the injured junior.

“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?”

Fudd was 13-of-21 on field goals, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range. The majority of those points came in the second half, after she put up just 10 in the first 20 minutes of the game. She had 22 points in the second half, including 17 of UConn’s 20 points in the fourth quarter.

Dorka Juhasz added six points and nine rebounds, while Aliyah Edwards, Lou Lopez-Senechal and Aubrey Griffin joined Fudd in double-digits.

“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.”

It’s the Huskies’ ninth win against a top-five opponent dating back to the 2013-14 season. The team largely controlled the game, though Texas led for just under seven minutes in the first half.

“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.”

“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.'”