STORRS, Conn. (AP) UConn coach Dan Hurley believes he has the best backcourt in the Big East and was confident his guards would not let the Huskies lose two games in a row.

Cam Spencer tied his season high with 25 points, Tristen Newton recorded his fourth career triple-double and top-ranked Connecticut bounced back from its first defeat since December with a 78-54 win over Villanova on Saturday night.

Newton, who assisted on a 3-pointer from Alex Karaban with 25 seconds to go, finished with 10 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for the Huskies (25-3, 15-2 Big East), who lead the Big East by two games in the loss column with three to play in the regular season.

The Huskies have not won a regular-season conference title since 2006.

“We are the best team in the country, we believe that,” Newton said. “And you know losing is never a good thing and we're not trying to lose back-to-back games.”

Stephon Castle had 14 points for UConn and Donovan Clingan added 13.

Eric Dixon scored 20 points and TJ Bamba had 13 for Villanova (15-12, 8-8), which had won three straight and four of its last five games.

Four days after giving up 85 points in a 19-point loss to Creighton, the Huskies held the Wildcats to 33% shooting, including three of 24 from 3-point range.

Villanova’s Brendan Hausen came into the game having scored in double figures in five straight games and was shooting 54% from the field in February. UConn held him scoreless on just two shots in 18 minutes.

“I definitely wanted to respond tonight personally,” Spencer said. “But, I think as a team we wanted to respond, because that wasn't the standard that we're capable of playing.”

UConn led 31-21 at the half. But a 3-pointer by Dixon five minutes into the second half cut that lead to 38-33.

It was 45-40 when Spencer drained one of his five 3-pointers and followed with a traditional 3-point play. That highlighted a 14-1 run that gave the Huskies a 59-41 lead.

“Him and Triston have been as good as any guards in the league this year,” Hurley said. “It's going to be tough - postseason awards. It's going to be tough to differentiate for our guys, because they've all been so damn good.”


Villanova: The Wildcats came into the game needing a win to boost their NCAA Tournament resume. They have four games left, including a contest at home against No. 15 Creighton to close the season on March 9.

“We've got to get better,” coach Kyle Neptune said. “We've got to go back, watch the film, learn from this and try to get better.”

UConn: The Huskies retired the No. 32 of former star Richard “Rip” Hamilton at halftime. Hamilton scored 2,036 points in his three seasons at UConn and led the Huskies to the first of their five national titles in 1999. He joins Ray Allen, Rebecca Lobo and Swin Cash as the only UConn players to have their numbers retired. The school says Clingan will be allowed to continue wearing the number.


Villanova: The Wildcats return home to host Georgetown on Tuesday night.

UConn: The Huskies don't play again until March 3, when they host Seton Hall.

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