No. 20 UConn men’s basketball started off the Phil Knight Invitational tournament as well as anyone could have asked, taking down Oregon, 83-59, on Thanksgiving night.
The Huskies hit 17-of-37 attempts (45.9 percent), breaking the record for made 3-pointers in a game that was previously held by the 2016-17 team when it hit 16 in a win over USF.
Tristen Newton was the star of the first half. The ECU transfer was 5-5 from three as he scored 19 first-half points on his way to 23 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds on the night.
The Huskies and Ducks traded blows early and were close early on until consecutive threes by Jordan Hawkins, Joey Calcaterra, and Newton pushed the lead to 10. UConn kept the Ducks at bay with hard-nosed defense and Newton’s hot stroke.
Calcaterra provided a scoring boost off the bench in the first half with eight efficient points, including two threes, as he ended the night with 11 points. He helped pick up the slack of Andre Jackson, who struggled early, missing all three of his field goal attempts and both of his shots from the foul line.
Hawkins was also launching from all over the court, hitting two threes on seven attempts in the first half as UConn took an 11-point lead into the break.
In the second half, the Huskies picked up right where they left off. Hawkins nailed three long-range shots in the first five minutes, getting the Huskies up by 18, and they never looked back. Hawkins finished with 18 points.
Donovan Clingan also held up incredibly well in his first action against high-major competition. The freshman led the team in rebounds as he finished with nine points, eight boards, two assists, two steals, and four blocks. He showed great toughness down low, altering countless shots and holding his own against Oregon’s extremely talented front line. Clingan’s play also allowed Hurley to keep Adama Sanogo on the bench for long stretches due to foul trouble.
Sanogo finished with an efficient 12 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes of action. He also continued to show off his improved shot, hitting two threes and bringing his total to six in the young season.
While the three-point shooting was a welcome sight, UConn’s defense was also phenomenal for a majority of the game, especially on Oregon’s lead guard Will Richardson, who finished with nine points on 3-9 shooting. UConn’s guards were swarming in the half court, stepping in front of passing lanes and generating ball pressure at all levels, which led to seventeen Oregon turnovers. The Huskies also won the rebounding battle 36-30, which is particularly impressive since the Ducks rank top-25 nationally in rebounding margin.
UConn is back in action Friday night, taking on the No. 18 Alabama at 9:30 p.m. ET.