The Big East continues to prove itself as one of the best conferences in college basketball as the UConn Huskies beat Marquette.
Marquette entered the XL Center in Hartford, CT on a five-game winning streak and tied atop the Big East, yet fell to UConn, 87-72, who entered sixth in the conference and with their first back-to-back wins of the calendar year.
UConn exploded out of the gates at the start of the game and never looked back as they opened the contest on a 22-6 run which may have given UConn fans a flashback to how this team was playing before the New Year. With five players scoring in double digits (Tristen Newton, Jordan Hawkins, Adama Sanogo, Alex Karaban, and Naheim Alleyne), Tuesday night was a great team showing for a UConn Huskies squad looking for a statement victory.
Despite another strong performance from Tyler Kolek (17 points, 4 assists, 2 steals), the Golden Eagles never got close enough to be back within striking distance.
Takeaway #1: Tristen Newton continues to shine
Tristen Newton has certainly been an important factor as the UConn Huskies continue to bounce back from their recent January skid. Newton is averaging 15.5 PPG, 5.2 APG, and 5.8 RPG over his last six games as he has firmly established himself as the lead point guard for the Huskies. Newton seems to be putting a greater emphasis on driving to the basket which in turn has created more opportunities for himself and his teammates.
On Tuesday, Newton became the first UConn Husky to notch multiple triple-doubles in the same season as he finished with 12 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds. The only other UConn player to have multiple triple-doubles in a career is Shabazz Napier, which is certainly good company to be with.
Takeaway #2: Marquette’s offense struggled to keep up
Although Marquette was out of the game as quickly as it started, they still outscored the Huskies by two points in the second half and look to push forward as they continue their chase for the Big East regular season crown. It’s not easy to win on the road in the Big East, especially when shots simply won’t fall for you as the Golden Eagles shot just under 24% from the three-point line.
Marquette is second in the conference in scoring and field goal percentage, plus they’re the third-ranked offense in the country per KenPom. Tuesday night’s offensive struggles are much more a result of an off-night rather than something to expect to see moving forward. If 72 points on the road against the 20th-ranked defense (per Kenpom) is an off-night, then Marquette is going to be a very hard team to beat come Big East Tournament time.
Takeaway #3: UConn gets a much-needed confidence boost
Taking down Marquette was the Huskies’ first win over a ranked opponent since they beat Alabama at the Phil Knight Invitational in November and this might just be their best performance since that trip out west. There is a lot for coach Dan Hurley and the Huskies to be proud of, between shooting 52.2% from behind the arc and outrebounding Marquette, 48-24.
Also, the Huskies missed 31 field goals and made up for that with 21 offensive rebounds along with 27 second-chance points. It certainly wasn’t a flawless night for UConn as they shot under 60% from the free-throw line and committed 17 turnovers. While both of those will need to be cleaned up come March, the immediate focus for this team will be to figure out how they can replicate this performance moving forward.
Next game for the UConn Huskies: @ Creighton (Feb. 11 – 2 p.m.)
Next game for the Marquette Golden Eagles: @ Georgetown (Feb. 11 – Noon)