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Azzi Fudd’s career night leads UConn past Tennessee

Azzi Fudd made her first career start on Sunday. (Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The 10th-ranked UConn Huskies took down No. 7 Tennessee 75-56 on Sunday as freshman Azzi Fudd made a statement in her first career start.

Fudd had a team-high 25 points, adding four rebounds and four assists. She made 7-of-9 3-pointers, including one on her first touch of the game.

“Today was a lot of fun,” Fudd said. “I was smiling the whole time.”

It was a statement made by the freshman in just her fourth game since returning from a foot injury that kept her sidelined for 11 games. Since her return, she has averaged 13.8 points per game.

“Today was the first game where she took it upon herself to be present in the entire game,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “She didn’t pass up any shots. If you watched the game, you’d have thought she was an upperclassman. If that’s the worst she ever looks, it’s going to be pretty good.”

Evina Westbrook and Aaliyah Edwards each added 14 points apiece.

The Huskies’ 12-for-26 3-point shooting far outpaced the Lady Vols, who were just 3-of-15 on the day. UConn also shot 44.8 percent to Tennessee’s 28.8. With the loss, the Lady Vols have lost three of their last four games. They lost forward Keyen Green to a torn ACL on Jan. 23.

“We have not recovered from that yet,” Tennessee head coach Kellie Harper said. “We’ve got to be able to find confidence in what we’re doing. That’s been the biggest drop-off for us in the last two weeks.”

Tennessee’s Jordan Horston led all scorers with 26 points, adding eight rebounds.

UConn was without Caroline Ducharme, who was unavailable due to a head injury. Sophomore guard Paige Bueckers continues to be out after having surgery to repair a tibial plateau fracture in her left knee. She is expected to make her return sometime in February. While UConn has hit some tough times due to injuries, the return of its stars could prove deadly heading into the final stretch of the season.

“We’re going to be a nasty team with everyone healthy,” Fudd said.

The rivalry game between the two teams lacked some of the firepower it used to have. The same rivalry that still has Auriemma and Candace Parker on opposite ends of the game was relatively tame on Sunday. Prior to the game, Auriemma spoke to the game’s meaning for the current group of players.

“I feel like it’s — things evolve, things change,” he said. “It’s certainly not the rivalry that it used to be and it may never be that again. I don’t think any of these players remember any Tennessee-Connecticut game, you know?

“If it didn’t happen earlier this afternoon and they didn’t see it on TikTok, it didn’t happen.”

UConn takes on Villanova on Wednesday as Tennessee will look to rebound against Missouri on Thursday.