UConn MBB dominates Oregon in PKI and meets Alabama in semifinals

UConn Athletic Communications / November 24, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. — The UConn men’s basketball team rode on the hot hand of senior guard Tristen Newton as he led the Huskies to a school-record 17 three-pointers and an 83-59 dominance over Oregon in the first round of the Phil Knight Invitational on Thursday evening at the Moda Center.

Newton, two games away from a triple-double, was on fire from the start, hitting 5 of 6 threes on his way to 21 first-half points as the No. 20 Huskies (6-0) took charge .

Newton finished the season with a season-high 23 points, hitting a total of 7 of 10 from the floor and adding 4 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals in an impressive all-around performance.

Newton had plenty of support as sophomore Jordan Hawkins added 18 points including 5 three-pointers, junior Adama Sanogo 12 points including 2 three-pointers, and graduate Joey Calcaterra 11 points with 3 three-pointers scored

Sanogo hit UConn’s last three with 3:56 remaining – 17thth for the Huskies, who broke the record of 16, faced South Florida on February 8, 2017. UConn’s 37 three-point attempts also set a new school mark.

The win advances UConn to Friday night’s PKI semifinals, where they will face No. 18-18 Alabama, an 81-70 winner over Michigan State, in the second half of Thursday’s doubles game. The Huskies and the Crimson Tide (5-0) go head-to-head at 9:30 p.m. EST at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum (ESPN2) with a spot in Sunday’s championship game on the line.

UConn trainer Dan Hurley was, of course, pleased with the Huskies’ outside shooting performance, which canceled out Oregon’s clear vertical advantage, but he was also pleased with the UConn defense, which followed the game plan to take advantage of the Ducks’ injured backcourt. Oregon (2-3) committed 17 turnovers resulting in 18 UConn points.

“Obviously we were thrilled with the performance,” Hurley said. “The plan was to pick them up all over the place, really go after them. I think we knew we were going to foul a lot today but I didn’t mind because of our depth. We knew we had to drag them to a full court game, not a slowdown game with the three monsters they have in the forecourt. If you’ve got the shooting we’ve got around the center game we’ve got you’ll have some nights like this.

The Huskies held a narrow 16:15 lead by 8:23 in the first half and then exploded with an 11:2 run in a 3:00 period as Hawkins, Calcaterra and Newton each hit a three.

“We didn’t react very well,” said Oregon coach Dana Altman. “Bigs really just didn’t come out a few times and didn’t cover. Our perimeter defense wasn’t good and they fired shots. Newton came on 4-17 and goes 5-6 in the first half. We let him get a few easy early and he got going. We didn’t help each other with our turnovers, missed a couple of free throws in the first half that could have kept us a little closer. But obviously we just didn’t cover.”

Any thoughts Oregon might have had of a comeback from a 39-28 halftime deficit were dashed when the Huskies came out of the dressing room with a 9-2 burst that stretched the lead to 48-30.

UConn never let up, extending the lead to 66-39 by the first 10:00 of the second half and the result was just a matter of ticking the clock.

It was UConn’s sixth straight game to go over 80 points. The Huskies had 22 assists on 30 field goals and passed the bigger Ducks 36-30, led by freshman Donovan Clingan’s 8.

UConn will likely face a tougher challenge from Alabama, a running pile with lots of points and an average of 84.0 points per game. The winner of the game meets the winner of the semifinals between North Carolina and Iowa State in Sunday’s championship game. The losers also meet on Sunday for third place.