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    Saturday, December 03, 2022

    Newton sparks UConn to easy 84-64 win with triple-double

    UConn head coach Dan Hurley celebrates with Tristen Newton (2) after Newton left the game with a triple-double during the No. 25 Huskies’ 84-64 win over Buffalo, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
    UConn’s Tristen Newton (2) pulls down his 10th rebound late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Buffalo, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
    UConn's Donovan Clingan (32) goes up for a basket as Buffalo's Zid Powell (13) defends in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

    Hartford – Tristen Newton’s UConn basketball teammates informed him about being on the verge of his first triple-double late in Tuesday’s runaway win.

    The XL Center crowd’s rousing ovation told Newton that he accomplished the feat after grabbing his 10th rebound with one minute, 23 seconds remaining. He recorded UConn’s 12th triple-double in school history and first since Daniel Hamilton’s 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists against Central Connecticut on Dec. 23, 2015.

    Newton sparked No. 25 UConn to its first victory this season as a ranked team, beating Buffalo, 84-64. He finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

    “It felt great,” said Newton said of the applause while exiting the game. “Thanks to my teammates. With the rebounds, they’re boxing out. I’m just flying in there and getting the rebounds. Credit to them.”

    Coach Dan Hurley admits that he’s been hard on the East Carolina transfer while trying to get the senior guard to be more aggressive and bring out a relentless mentality.

    Newton responded, regularly driving the basket resulting in 17 free throw attempts, making 14.

    “Awesome to see him play at that level and have that breakout game and the confidence that he’ll get from that,” Hurley said. “He was all over the court. He just played basketball and drew 13 fouls, which is crazy.”

    The short-handed Huskies (3-0) needed Newton to deliver.

    Sophomore Jordan Hawkins (concussion), junior Andre Jackson and sophomore Samson Johnson (foot) all sat out for the second straight game. The first two could be back for Friday’s home game against UNC-Wilmington while Johnson is expected to be out for weeks.

    UConn easily survived without its injured starters against Buffalo (1-2), a team that allowed an average of 92 points in its first two games. All three wins have been by at least 20 points.

    “With everything that happens in college basketball with these types of games for the first week to 10 days of the season, I’m thrilled with how easily we’ve been able to get out of these games considering all things,” Hurley said.

    Overall, six Huskies scored in double figures, with Joey Calcaterra (15), Nahiem Alleyne (12), Adama Sanogo (11), Donovan Clingan (11) and Alex Karaban (10).

    But Newton was the big story.

    It’s the kind of breakout game that will help Newton really settle into his new team.

    “The first game, I played terrible,” Newton said. “The second game, I played bad. This game I feel like I played better than that. I feel like every game is going to keep getting better and better and my confidence is going to grow and I’ll do what they brought me here to do.”

    It was a rocky start for Huskies.

    The Huskies started fast, taking a 7-0 lead and then hit a major rut. They trailed for the first time this season at 12-11 after going about six and a half minutes without a field goal.

    They made just 6 of their first 26 field goals and kept misfiring from 3-point range, finishing 6 for 23 overall from behond the arc. Buffalo surrounded Sanogo, UConn’s best offensive player, every time he touched the ball except when he buried a 3-pointer.

    Newton’s hustle play with about three minutes left in the first half ignited the Huskies. He turned a nifty steal into an energizing breakaway dunk, firing up his UConn teammates and forcing Buffalo to call a timeout late in the first half.

    A welcoming committee led by Hurley greeted Newton near midcourt.

    The Huskies led 33-22 and finished the half on a 21-8 run to take a 44-28 advantage at the break.

    Holding a 23-20 lead, Sanogo started the spurt with an inside basket and two free throws. Newton, who regularly drew fouls on drives, converted two foul shots.

    Alleyne extended the lead to 31-22 on an old school 3-point play.

    Then Newton sent a charge into the Huskies, stripping Devin Ceasar and cashing in with a dunk.

    Coming out of the Buffalo timeout, Calcaterra fired in consecutive threes for a 39-24 edge and the Huskies were finally feeling good.

    “I’m just really focusing on making the right plays when I’m in there,” Calcaterra said. “The shots are going to come and go. The past couple of games, I knocked a few down. It felt good to give my team a boost with back-to-back threes.”

    By halftime, Newton already had 15 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals.

    UConn remained in charge after the break.

    Clingan’s block led to Karaban’s 3-pointer, giving the Huskies their first 20-point lead at 56-36 with 14:28 left. The Huskies led by as many as 26 points.

    Reinforcements may arrive for Friday’s home game against UNC-Wilmington.

    Two hours before game time, Hawkins worked out on his own, firing up shots from the perimeter. He showed little rust from his time on the sidelines, swishing basket after basket.

    Jackson will be cleared on Wednesday to participate in live action in practice.

    “There’s hope for Friday potentially for both or one but we’ll know more on Thursday,” Hurley said.

    Also Tuesday, Sanogo was named to the Wooden Award’s preseason top 50 watch list.

    g.keefe@theday.com

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