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Villanova Edges Purdue: 79-76

#3 Villanova tallied a big-time, early season win at #15 Purdue this evening - winning an epic, 79-76 battle ...

In a battle of ranked teams at Mackey Arena this evening, the Wildcats clawed and scratched their to victory over a rugged and skilled Boilermaker squad.  Villanova (2-0) leveraged experience and a high level of effort to build double-digit leads thirteen minutes into the first half and a little over five minutes into the second half.  In the first half, Purdue gradually chipped away at the lead before eventually tying the game with a half-court shot by B.J. Edwards to beat the first-half buzzer.  In the second half, Purdue relentlessly fought back from a 58-48 deficit at the 14:44 mark - cutting the lead to one point on five different occasions only to see Villanova answer each run with a bucket or free throws of their own.  The Wildcats shot a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line in the second half to hold off the Boilers.

Purdue grabbed a quick lead in the second half but Villanova, All-American candidate, Josh Hart took over to help the Wildcats build the double-figure lead.  Hart scored seven points in the first four minutes of the second half to set the tone for 'Nova.  Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges combined to shoot 6-6 from the free-throw line the last 43 seconds to seal the win.

Villanova started Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth, Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins and Darryl Reynolds.  Eric Paschall, Mikal Bridges, and Donte DiVincenzo played all of the bench minutes.  'Nova was concerned about the size of Purdue going into the game and three first half fouls by Eric Paschall only exacerbated the Cats' lack of size.  Reynolds played a strong game and received a lot of defensive help in the low post.  'Nova gang-rebounded the ball through the contest.

Goods:

  • Showed a lot of poise and character - unfazed by the environment
  • Despite being outsized in the paint, 'Nova was only out-rebounded by 3 boards.
  • Only 11 turnovers while forcing 15
  • 7 steals
  • +5 bench points
  • Shot 41.2% from three-point range and 51.3% from two
  • Shot 81.8% from the free-throw line (18-22)

Others:

  • Only 12 assists to 11 turnovers - not much in the way of crisp ball and player movement - the offense seems to be more focused on spreading the floor for dribble-drive and to create space for three-point attempts

Player by Player:

Jalen Brunson: 102 ORtg, 10 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 turnovers and 2 steals.  Brunson didn't get into a groove with his jumper but he got to the rim a little and came up big in the closing seconds at the free throw line.  You want your PG to ice games at the stripe and Brunson did just that.  In the closing minutes, Brunson was swapped in and out as the offensive portion of an offense/defense substitution pattern with Phil Booth.  This wasn't a vintage, stand-out performance for Brunson but he did what it took to win - gritty defense to grab a couple of steals in traffic, timely scoring and ball security when it mattered.

Phil Booth: 133 ORtg, 7 points, 3 rebound, 2 assists and 1 turnover.  Booth played well defensively and picked his spots to chip in on the offensive end as well.  Had a couple of real nice takes to the rim where he showed some explosiveness.  Drained his only trey and both of his FTs.  Solid outing for Booth.

Josh Hart: 108 ORtg, 24 points on 7-14 two-pointers and 1-3 three-pointers.  Hart was all but unstoppable on his forays to the tin.  He continually found his way to the rack and finished through and around the defense.  Added 3 rebounds and 2 steals to the effort.  Hart has been very aggressive taking the ball to the basket.  When he pulled up for mid-range Js in the second half he was just a bit long on both of them. Showed great leadership and a willingness to be the go-to scorer.

Kris Jenkins: 74 ORtg, 8 points on 1-6 two-pointers, 2-6 three-pointers, 4 boards, 1 block, 1 steal, 2 assist and 1 turnover.  Despite his offensive inefficiency in this game. Jenkins played a key role in his 35 minutes.  He was forced to defend the low post a bit and that may've sapped him of some of his energy at the other end.  Jenkins did a nice job of being a calming influence on the offensive end - getting the offense set up and making good decisions.

Darryl Reynolds: 158 ORtg, 12 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal.  When Paschall was forced to the bench after only a brief run in the first half, the Cats needed Reynolds to step up and he certainly did.  He cleaned up some misses around the rim, made some low post moves and calmly sunk his two FTs.  Though the Cats struggled to guard Swanigan and Haas at times, Reynolds made things difficult at time for Purdue in the paint - resulting in enough empty trips and turnovers to keep the Cats ahead.

Eric Paschall: Paschall fouled out in only 9 minutes.  3 of those fouls were questionable whistles where Paschall was aggressively fronting the post and the referee was obviously overwhelmed by the situation and unable to make the right call.  When he was out there, he was mega-efficient on offense.  Paschall drained a trey from each corner, powered home a dunk and made a strong post move, "and one", for an old-school three-pointer.  His 11 second-half points were a massive contribution to the Villanova victory.

Mikal Bridges: 133 ORtg, 7 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists.  Bridges played a strong defensive game and picked his spots on offense to contribute.  Shortly after entering the game he threw this one down:

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Donte DiVincenzo: This game will serve as a great learning experience for DiVincenzo.  He had the opportunity to grab some quality minutes in a hostile environment, against a great team, early in the season.  DiVincenzo missed his lone FG attempt, a three-ball but contributed with an active defensive effort.  He tallied one rebound, one assist and one steal in 9 minutes of action.  Made only one turnover as well. 

The Cats next game is Thursday morning (17 Nov) against Western Michigan in Charleston (11:30 AM on ESPN2 / 610 WTEL)

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