HARTFORD – Setting UConn records at this point of the program’s history is not easy considering the level of talent that’s walked through its door.
Highlighting their vast amount of talent is Hall-of-Famer Ray Allen, who sat with his family in the first row behind the scorer’s table at the XL Center on Saturday and is the only player in team history to have his number retired.
So, when a record is set, it’s certainly worth noting. The latest one came in UConn’s 90-60 win over Manhattan with Tristen Newton recording his third career triple-double, breaking Shabazz Napier’s school record of two.
Newton finished with 15 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds. He added two steals for good measure. He needed one rebound to close out the feat and time was ticking. With the game well in hand, Dan Hurley was not going to leave him in until the end.
“I just yelled at him that he better get a rebound,” Hurley said. “I think he heard me because he did nod to me. I couldn’t leave him out there just to get the rebound. He had to get that rebound within the confines of when he should’ve come out of the game. I couldn’t leave him in there until the two-minute-mark, so he got it at the perfect time.”
The perfect time was with 5:39 left. Hurley immediately subbed Newton out, who then received a rousing ovation from the 15,006 in attendance with Allen leading the cheers.
“Donovan (Clingan) was boxing out his man and then told me to get it. So, credit to him,” Newton said. “It feels good to get love from the fans.”
While Newton, as usual, was soft-spoken at the podium, Hurley was not. Newton received little-to-no fanfare nationally heading into the season, even after a spectacular run in the NCAA Tournament.
He is a major reason why the fifth-ranked Huskies are 6-0.
“I think he’s the best rebounding guard in the country,” Hurley said. “He’s well-rounded offensively, can make threes, drive the ball, and he’s a tremendous passer – a true resume. In sports, we used to value winning and championships over just raw numbers. Unfortunately, especially at the NBA level, it’s all about numbers. We used to celebrate championships more.
“This is a champion averaging (15) points a game. He should be talked about as one of the best guards in the country.”
Speaking of records, the Huskies tied an NCAA record with their 23rd straight non-conference win by more than double digits. Their balanced attack continued with Cam Spencer leading the way with 18 points. Clingan added 17 points, Alex Karaban had 12 and Hassan Diarra finished with 11.
UConn shot 58 percent overall, 45 percent from three and knocked down all nine of its foul shots. A well-oiled machine.
Hurley is thrilled with the team-first mentality of this group, even though he feels they don’t get the national credit that’s warranted.
“A lot of our players don’t get the credit because our culture is so unselfish,” Hurley said. “These guys are all about winning. They are not huge on social media and making it about themselves. People that don’t watch the games, they just watch TikTok highlights, they are the ones judging. And they don’t know sh%t.”
Manhattan coach John Gallagher was impressed, to say the least. One week ago, his team lost to No. 1 Kansas. UConn will face the Jayhawks on the road Dec. 1.
“Look, I’ll put it on the table, I’ve watched both teams – I think UConn is better,” said Gallagher, who previously coached at Hartford. “At the end of the day, Kansas and Coach (Bill) Self, who I love, don’t have the sweat equity UConn has. They have to get that. They can have it by March, but if you watch the Marquette game the other day, they were a little throttled (Marquette won, 73-59).”
UConn will look to set the NCAA non-conference double-digit win streak Monday at Gampel against New Hampshire, and it will be a heavy favorite to do so.
Records, unselfish play, and another blowout win – just another day at the office for the force that is UConn basketball.