UConn men’s basketball put together its best performance of the new year, handily defeating No. 10 Marquette in front of a raucous crowd at the XL Center in Hartford. The No. 21 Huskies (19-6, 8-6 Big East) have now won four of their last five.
“We needed this one bad,” Tristen Newton said, after scoring 12 points and notching his second triple-double of the season in the blowout effort.
The Huskies led from the start and never looked back. Jordan Hawkins’ 20 points led the way as he went 5-of-8 from three while Adama Sanogo added 18 and Alex Karaban and Nahiem Alleyne added 13 points each — the first time UConn had five players in double figures since the win over LIU on Dec. 10.
In the first six minutes, UConn built up a 17-4 lead thanks to nine early points from Hawkins. The Huskies stretched the lead to 20 multiple times, and while Marquette responded to keep it from getting truly out of hand, UConn stayed in control. Hawkins had 14 of his 20 points in the first half as he stayed hot from behind the arc.
UConn shot 12-23 (52.2 percent) from three and got a big boost from Alleyne, who hit a deep three as time expired in the first half to give the Huskies a 17-point lead at the break. The Huskies finished 50 percent from the field as well and absolutely crushed the boards, 48-24.
Alleyne’s reemergence led the Huskies’ best bench performance in weeks, with the Virginia Tech transfer hitting double figures for the first time in over two months thanks to a 3-6 performance from three. UConn’s bench chipped in 19 points — the most for the Huskies since the win over Butler on Jan. 22.
“If that starts happening, that's a problem for the other people,” Hurley said. “You give us a guy like Nahiem that gets back to his old form, that’s tough for the other guy.”
In the second half, the Huskies were ahead as much as 25 with 10 minutes to play. The lead was never less than 16 in the second half until a free throw from Kam Jones cut it to 15 points with 27 seconds remaining.
Newton’s 12-assist, 10-rebound effort for the 13th triple-double in program history put him in very esteemed company. He joins Shabazz Napier as the only other Husky with more than one triple-double at UConn and is the only one to do it twice in the same season.
Next up, the Huskies head to Omaha, Nebraska to take on No. 23 Creighton in a 2 p.m. game that will be televised on FOX. The stakes will be high.
“We’ve had a bunch of really good wins against really good teams. I’ve reminded our team that we’ve gone through one bad stretch that every team in the country goes through,” Hurley said. “We have a chance down the stretch in these last six regular season games to get our confidence back.
“I just think we’re built for tournament play.”