UConn men's notes: Northwestern's Buie has UConn ties

Mar. 23—NEW YORK — Boo Buie, Northwestern's star guard, has some ties to the UConn basketball program.

Buie grew up with former Husky Andre Jackson and played a season with UConn guard Cam Spencer's brother Pat at Northwestern in 2019-20.

He remains close with both Jackson and Pat Spencer.

Especially Jackson, a member of UConn's 2023 national championship team.

They grew up in the Albany, N.Y., area, have been friends since grade school, played on the same youth basketball team and still occasionally hang out together.

"I grew up with him," Buie said. "He's like a brother to me, literally since the second grade. We have been hanging out with each other ever since. Now he's in Milwaukee, it's about an hour and 15 minutes away and I go up like once every other weekend or so and catch a game If I can or just go chill with him."

Buie, Northwestern's all-time leading scorer, will be trying to eliminate Jackson's Huskies from the NCAA tournament in second round action Sunday night in Brooklyn. He's an offensive force, averaging a team-best 19.3 points per game.

"Boo Buie, one of the best guards in the country, an All-American caliber player, would be an easy Big Ten player of the year if it wasn't for (Purdue's) Zach Edey," UConn coach Dan Hurley said.

Buie is trying to do something that Jackson did, and that's win a national championship.

Before the tournament started, Jackson mentioned to Buie that he would try to make UConn's second round game. But the Bucks have a home game against Oklahoma City Sunday night.

Pat Spencer is busy as well. He recently made his NBA debut with the Golden State Warriors. After an All-American lacrosse career at Loyola, Md., he picked up basketball again and played for Northwestern.

Buie was a freshman when Spencer joined the program.

"We're still tight," Buie said. "Pat was a really good role model for me my first year. He showed me a lot of toughness. I just saw his parents. They were able to make it to my game at Maryland."

Buie has met Cam but doesn't know him well.

When asked whether Pat or Cam is a better shooter, Buie said: "I'd have to say Cam, probably."

Northwestern coach Chris Collins is a big fan of the Spencer family.

While at Rutgers last season, Cam Spencer scored a season-high 23 points and hit the game-winning jumper in a 65-62 win at Northwestern and had nine points in a home loss later in the season.

"I love Cam," Collins said. "I love the Spencer family. We gave Pat an opportunity right off the lacrosse field when no one else would. Because of the mindset, I just love how both of those guys are wired. They are just tough, competitive, confident guys that work hard."

Impressive streak

During Saturday's press conference, UConn's players on the podium were asked about the Huskies winning 38 of their last 41 games dating back to the Big East tournament last season.

"I think it's been an impressive record so far and we are proud of the record, going 38-3 right now," redshirt sophomore Alex Karaban said, "but we have so much more."

Then Karaban brought up the three losses — 69-65 at Kansas on Dec. 1, 75-60 at Seton Hall on Dec. 20 and 85-66 at Creighton on Feb. 20.

"We have learned a lot throughout those three losses, and those losses really helped shape us into the team that we are today," Karaban continued. "Just looking back at those experiences helped us become a better team."

Possible state showdown ahead

UConn has company from Connecticut in the second round.

No. 13 Yale also advanced by upsetting No. 4 Auburn, 78-76 on Thursday in Spokane, Wash. Next up is a Sunday night game against No. 5 San Diego State, UConn's opponent in last year's national championship game.

Hurley called Yale's James Jones one of the most underrated coaches in the country.

"It's great for the state," Hurley said. "I know we say Storrs, Connecticut, is the basketball capital of the world, and we don't run from that. But maybe just the state of Connecticut feels like the basketball capital of the world and we add Storrs to New Haven. Maybe we stretch that a little bit right now."

If both UConn and Yale win Sunday, the two programs would meet in the Sweet Sixteen in Boston.

News and notes

Collins, who's in his 11th season as head coach at Northwestern, played his college basketball at Duke from 1993-96. He competed in three NCAA tournaments, including one Final Four, and won three ACC regular season titles. ... UConn and Northwestern both practiced at the Barclays Center on Saturday. ... Northwestern guard Ryan Langborg played in the NCAA tournament last season with Princeton, reaching the Sweet Sixteen, before transferring. He led the Tigers in tournament scoring at 18.7 points per game. ... The Huskies are hoping to have a strong fan turnout for Sunday's game. "They give us a good boost of energy that we need to go out there and compete...," veteran Tristen Newton said. "So it's a good advantage, and we're going to need them."