STORRS, Conn. — UConn fan Bryan Jackson says he thought his taste buds were safe when he joked last week on Twitter that he’d drink a spoonful of hot sauce if his Huskies came from behind to beat Marquette.

After all, it was already the second half, UConn was down by 18 points and its best player, James Bouknight, had gone down with an injury.

“I saw that people were very down on Twitter and I just wanted to add some levity to the situation,” he said. “I thought people might get a chuckle out of it. And the other aspect of it, it was kind of an offering to the basketball gods.”

The Huskies did come from behind, winning the Jan. 5 game by 65-54.

And so, in what has since become a viral video, Jackson, a 2006 UConn graduate who lives in Boston, posted a tweet of himself downing a large spoonful of Black Bison hot sauce, then taking another swig from the bottle, while chanting, “U-C-O-N-N, UConn, UConn, UConn.”

Another fan tweeted he believed all UConn fans should follow suit, in penance for doubting their Huskies.


Numerous fans began posting videos of themselves taking shots of hot sauce. They did it again when UConn (7-1, 4-1 Big East) went to Butler and won on Saturday, and more fans joined in after a close win on Monday at DePaul.

That’s when the Husky Ticket Project stepped in. The charity, formed by three alums three years ago, raises money to send underprivileged kids to UConn football and basketball games. The organization asked everyone for a donation of at least $5 to go along with their hot-sauce shots.

“It sparked an idea in my head that we should make this like the ALS ice bucket challenge,” said Kevin Solomon, one of the charity’s founders.

Bryan volunteered to take swigs of hotter and hotter sauces as fundraising goals are met. Others joined the cause. One hot sauce brand got wind of the challenge and is offering discounts to participants who buy their sauce.

“It just caught on. I can’t tell you how surprised and grateful we are,” Solomon said. “UConn fans are the craziest, most passionate fans, and now we’ve found out they are also the most generous.”

On Wednesday, less than two days into the challenge, the Husky Project already had been tagged in numerous videos and collected almost $10,000.


“It’s already become a thing,” said Chris Licata, a 37-year-old graduate who is on the hook to down a cocktail of several sauces just before the tip of UConn’s next game, which is scheduled for Monday against St. John’s. “I never really expected to take a shot, but I told them if they reached $3,000 I’d do it. They blew right past that.”

Dan Toscano, the chairman of the school’s Board of Trustees, said he’s decided to donate his seats for an upcoming game to a random fan who participates in the challenge. He said he’s hoping to get on the court with Coach Dan Hurley after a win and drink some sauce.

Toscano acknowledges he’s not thrilled by the taste test part of the deal. But said it signifies something bigger – the revival of UConn basketball after NCAA issues and conference realignment that left the school in the American Athletic Conference for seven years before this season’s return to the Big East.

“People lost their mojo and I think this shows it is coming back,” he said.

Organizers of the challenge have reached out to Hurley and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, in hopes they might get involved, either by supporting the challenge or actually drinking some hot sauce.

Neither had responded those messages or messages left by The Associated Press on Wednesday.


Hurley told The Hartford Courant he’ll meet the challenge.

“I’ve got to get involved,” he said. “I’ll make a donation and do a one-off on the hot sauce. I can’t do spice, but I’ll suck it up once.”

Jackson is now committed to downing sauces at the top to the Scoville spice scale, with names such as Dave’s Ghost Pepper Garlic Insanity Sauce, the Torchbearer Garlic Reaper and The Last Dab. Should UConn go on to win a conference title or a fifth national championship, he’s worried he may need a fundraiser of his own to help pay for reviving his mouth.

“I mean, I’d have to celebrate with some hot sauce,” he said. “I just don’t know that I can go any hotter than what I’ve already committed to.”

• Bouknight will be out indefinitely after having surgery on his left elbow, the school said.

The surgery was done on Tuesday.


Bouknight had been leading the Big East in scoring, averaging 20.3 points, while making 45% of his shots from the field.

(16) LOUISVILLE 77, WAKE FOREST 65: Carlik Jones scored a season-high 23 points to help visiting Louisville (9-1, 4-0 ACC) beat Wake Forest (3-4, 0-4).

Samuell Williamson added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Cardinals, who blew nearly all of a 16-point second-half lead before finally putting this one away in the final 6 minutes as the Demon Deacons went cold.

Louisville shot 51% for the game to reach 4-0 in the league, marking the program’s best since joining the ACC before the 2014-15 season.

(18) VIRGINIA 80, NOTRE DAME 68: Jay Huff scored 18 points and Sam Hauser had 15 points and nine rebounds as host Virginia (8-2, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) beat Notre Dame (3-8, 0-5) for its fourth consecutive victory.

Huff, who is 7-foot-1, made a career-best four 3-pointers in the first half as Virginia opened an 18-10 lead and built it to 37-25 by halftime.


Cormac Ryan scored 16 and Trey Wertz 13 for the Fighting Irish, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 0-11 against Virginia in conference games. Nate Laszewski, who burned Virginia for 28 points in their first meeting, finished with 12.

(21) OHIO STATE 81, NORTHWESTERN 71: Duane Washington Jr. scored a career-high 23 points to lead host Ohio State (10-3, 4-3 Big Ten) over Northwestern (6-5, 3-4).

The Buckeyes avenged a one-point loss to the Wildcats on Dec. 26.

Justin Ahrens added 12 points, hitting four 3-pointers, including a timely one late in the second half to help preserve the Buckeyes’ lead.

Chase Audige kept Northwestern, scoring 21 of his career-best 25 points in the first half.



(15) OHIO STATE 84, IOWA 82: Madison Greene had 20 points and a career-high six steals, Jacy Sheldon and Braxtin Miller each added 18 points and visiting Ohio State (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) snapped a 42-game home winning streak by Iowa (8-3, 4-3).

Iowa had not lost in Carver-Hawkeye Arena since a 92-74 defeat against Nebraska on Jan. 28, 2018. It was the second-longest active streak at home behind Baylor’s 61.

Ohio State trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half, but took its first lead since the first quarter on a 3-pointer by Gabby Hutcherson with 1:29 left in regulation. It was the final field goal of the fourth quarter as Kate Martin forced overtime at the line with 54.4 seconds left.

McKenna Warnock pulled Iowa within 83-82 on a layup with 37.8 seconds. After Greene made 1 of 2 free throws for a two-point lead,  Caitlin Clark was off on a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer.

(19) DEPAUL 101, ST. JOHN’S 84: Dee Bekelja scored 22 points and Lexi Held had 21 points, five rebounds and seven assists to help host DePaul (7-3, 4-1 Big East) beat St. John’s (4-6, 1-4).

All five starters for DePaul scored in double figures. Deja Church added 18 points and nine rebounds, and Jorie Allen and Sonya Morris each scored 17 points. Morris also had nine assists and Allen grabbed seven rebounds.

DePaul opened the game on an 11-2 run with scoring from five players, and led 26-14 after the first quarter. Church, Held and Allen combined for 35 points in the first half to help the Blue Demons lead 51-31.

Qadashah Hoppie scored a career-high 28 points with six 3-pointers for St. John’s.

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