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    Friday, March 01, 2024

    Newton sets program’s triple-double record in UConn’s blowout win

    UConn guard Tristen Newton, right, follows his rebound with a shot against Manhattan guard Jaden Winston, left, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    Hartford — With UConn well on its way to another blowout win on Friday, the XL Center crowd turned its attention to the Tristen Newton Triple Double Watch.

    Fans cheered every time Newton, who already had double figures in points and assists, grabbed a rebound late in the second half.

    Coach Dan Hurley was keeping track as well.

    “I just yelled at him, `You better get a rebound soon.’ I think he heard me because he nodded at me. Because I couldn’t leave him out there, that would have been a bad look, just to get the rebound.”

    Newton, a 6-foot-5 graduate guard, took Hurley’s advice, securing a defensive rebound to reach the triple double milestone with five minutes, 39 seconds remaining.

    Shortly after that, Newton’s day was over. He received a loud ovation from the 15,006 fans in attendance as he went to the bench with 15 points, a career-best 13 assists and 10 rebounds. He also left with the school record for career triple doubles with three.

    “I’m just trying to be all over the court and help the team win,” Newton said.

    The fifth-ranked Huskies (6-0) also are closing in on setting another impressive record.

    With a 90-60 rout of Manhattan, UConn won its 23rd straight non-conference game by double digits, tying the record. North Carolina accomplished the feat from 2008 to 2010.

    The Huskies can set the mark on Monday against New Hampshire in Storrs.

    “Obviously, it’s in the back of our heads,” sophomore Donovan Clingan said about the record. “We’re trying to be part of history and do something no team has done. We’re thinking about it, but we can’t go into the game thinking we’ve got to win by double digits.

    “.... Coach brought it up, but it doesn’t change how we attack a game and attack the other team.”

    UConn head coach Dan Hurley embraces referee Mike Palau during a timeout in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Manhattan, Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    It certainly didn’t change UConn’s approach on Friday. The Huskies led by as many as 37 points.

    They rode a balanced attack, as five players scored in double figures. Graduate transfer Cam Spencer finished with 18 while Clingan had a season-high 17 points, redshirt sophomore Alex Karaban 12 points and senior Hassan Diarra a season-best 11 points.

    They shared the ball, finishing with 22 assists, and shot a season-best 58.1 percent.

    They impressed Manhattan’s John Gallagher, who previously coached at Hartford from 2010 to 2022. Manhattan faced No. 1 Kansas earlier this year, losing 99-61 on Nov. 10

    UConn plays at Kansas next Friday.

    “I’ve watched both teams and I think UConn is better by a couple of baskets,” Gallagher said. “At the end of the day, they don’t have the sweat equity that UConn has.”

    Hard to argue with Gallagher after what has transpired in UConn’s first six games. The Huskies have won in dominating fashion, posting a scoring margin of 29.5 points. They’ve yet to trail in the second half.

    They’ve avoided letdowns while playing mid-major programs like Manhattan.

    UConn center Donovan Clingan dunks against Manhattan during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    Down 11-10, UConn took off on a 21-4 run to take charge. Spencer’s 3-pointer jump-started the Huskies. Diarra provided a spark off the bench with seven straight points. Clingan’s strong inside move pushed the lead to 31-15.

    The Huskies, who led 49-32 at the break, kept their foot on the accelerator in the second half. Four different starters combined to score the first 10 points.

    That’s when Newton took center stage.

    Newton needed two assists and seven rebounds in the final 20 minutes to achieve triple double status.

    Thanks to Clingan’s boxing out under the basket, Newton easily grabbed his 10th rebound.

    “My teammates helped me out and it’s not possible without them,” said Newton, who had two triple doubles last season.

    Six games in, Newton has put up some eye-opening numbers. He’s first on the team in assists (6.8) and rebounds (7.8) per game and third in scoring at 15.3.

    Newton may be underappreciated in the college basketball world but not by his coaching staff and teammates.

    “A lot of our players don’t get the credit because our culture is so unselfish and these guys are so about winning,” Hurley said. “And they’re not huge on social media making it all about themselves. If the national college basketball experts don’t begin to include him in the conversations as one of the better guards in the country with everything he’s done, he’s won a national championship and he’s had multiple triple doubles.

    “All he’s done is win.”

    All in all, an enjoyable afternoon for the Huskies and their fans who attended the matinee. Husky great Ray Allen attended the game and received a rousing standing ovation when introduced and spoke to the team afterwards.

    g.keefe@theday.com

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