NEW YORK (AP) — Tristen Newton had 23 points and 11 rebounds and No. 5 UConn pulled away in the second half for a 77-57 victory over Indiana on Sunday in the Empire Classic at Madison Square Garden.
After winning their first three games by an average of 39 points, the Huskies (4-0) got their fourth double-digit win thanks largely to Newton, who also had six assists.
“I thought he was great,” Huskies coach Dan Hurley said. “It’s not much not to like. He was the best player in the national championship game in front of 75,000 people with all the money on the table. Coming into MSG in an atmosphere like this, for him it’s exciting, but he’s an accomplished player.”
Five days after being held to 10 points against Mississippi Valley, Newton made 7 of 16 shots. He finished two shy of his career high for rebounds and drew 10 fouls.
“They rely on me to be aggressive,” Newton said. “They have a trust in me to go out and perform how I feel like I need to perform.”
Cam Spencer added 18 points for the defending national champions, who led for the final 33:21 in their first meeting against Indiana since 2019. Alex Karaban scored 13 and Donavan Clingan grabbed nine rebounds as UConn shot 44.6% and outrebounded Indiana 44-22.
Malik Reneau led the Hoosiers (3-1) with 18 points. He helped Indiana stay within striking distance by scoring 15 in the first half but fouled out with seven minutes left.
Reneau had little help. Leading scorer Kel’el Ware was held to 11 points on 2-of-10 shooting as Indiana shot 37.8% and also gave up 15 offensive rebounds.
“It was glaring tonight that we got out toughed,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said.
The Huskies took their first double-digit lead at 26-15 on Newton’s 3-pointer with 6:10 remaining in the first half and held a 35-21 lead on Karaban’s layup with 2:25 to go. Reneau hit two free throws and converted a 3-point play in the final two minutes to get Indiana within 37-30 by halftime.
Newton was fouled by Reneau on a layup that made it 52-43 with 12:29 to go. With Reneau on the bench because of his fourth foul, the Huskies opened a 58-44 lead on two free throws by Spencer with 10:02 left.
Reneau fouled out with 7:04 remaining and the Hoosiers down 58-48. The Huskies finished it off as Spencer hit a 3 and a floater for a 64-48 lead with about six minutes left.
“I was really impressed with how we separated today,” Hurley said.
UConn: The Huskies fared well defensively in their first notable nonconference game of a schedule that includes a visit to No. 1 Kansas and matchups with No. 11 Gonzaga and No. 20 North Carolina. “Really it was just about taking away the paint and getting the gaps, which is not necessarily what do,” Hurley said. “For this game, it made sense.”
Indiana: Xavier Johnson was listed as questionable with a lower left leg injury and never got into a flow, finishing with four points in 14 minutes. Johnson entered as the Hoosiers’ third-leading scorer, picked up three fouls in the first half and did not score until hitting two free throws early in the second. “X is a big part of what we do,” Woodson said. “He’s got to become better at running our team and be smart about not picking up fouls.”
UConn: Faces Texas or Louisville in Monday’s championship game.
Indiana: Faces Texas or Louisville in Monday’s consolation game.