Tristen Newton has been UConn's best player all season and in a tough game against Villanova, proved it once again.
Being the No. 1 team in the country, UConn obviously has plenty of talent. They have a five-star future pro in Stephen Castle, an elite sharpshooter in Cam Spencer, a double-digit scoring forward (Alex Karaban) and of course, Donovan Clingan, one of the best big men in the sport when healthy.
And yet, there's no real question as to who the best/most important player on the team is. It's Tristen Newton, the 5th-year senior guard who leads the team with 15.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and 5.9 apg. He has a triple-double on the season, along with a 31-point effort against Kansas.
The all-around point guard has come up big for UConn, including in the past month while Clingan has come back from a foot injury. He's played in the last two games off the bench but is still getting into playing shape and being effective on the offensive end. Meanwhile, Newton has taken over the offense. He had 16 points against Creighton earlier in the week, heading into a big road matchup at Villanova.
The Huskies were in control for most of the game, but the Wildcats made multiple runs to get the lead back. Yet Newton saved his best for the second half, scoring 19 of his 25 points in what ended up as a 66-65 victory, moving to 17-2 on the season and 7-1 in the Big East to be in first place. Newton played 39 of 40 minutes and was the go-to man down the stretch, which paid off.
We can debate whether UConn or Purdue is the true best team in the country but it's clear that the Huskies are built to potentially repeat as national champions. And as long as Newton continues to play at an All-American level, it's going to be very hard to beat them.