#1 AP, Villanova snuck past DePaul, 68-65, to move to 13-0 on the season and open Big East regular season play with a victory. The win was the 19th straight for the Cats and the 45th in a row at the Pavilion.
DePaul played bettter than expected on both ends of the floor while Villanova struggled a little shooting the ball from three-point range. ‘Nova couldn’t get much of any offense going in the paint outside of the drives of Josh Hart and some good work by Jalen Brunson in transition. Hart was huge late, willing the Cats to victory with a 25 point, 6 rebound performance. He was supported by 13 points from Brunson and 12 from Kris Jenkins.
- Won the rebounding battle by a small margin
- Shot 50% from the field
- Good composure down the stretch with Hart “standing on his head” offensively
- Held DePaul to 17.6% shooting beyond the arc
- Defense allowed .98 points per possession
- Allowed DePaul to shoot 52.1% from two-point range
- 12 Assists to 14 Turnovers against an unheralded, statistically poor, DePaul defense
- 30.8% 3PFG
Josh Hart (36 Min, 25 Points, 8-15 FG, 1-6 3PFG, 8-9 FT, 6 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 0 Turnovers, 136 ORtg) Despite having missed all 5 of his earlier three-point attempts, Hart had the confidence to rise and fire a late three-point that found the bottom of the net and gave the Cats a four point lead in the closing seconds. Hart once again carried the team on his back late in the game to guide ‘Nova to the win. At this point, he needs teammates around him to contribute more consistently at a high level. Hart became the 30th Villanova player to surpass 1,500 points while moving past legends, Tom Greis and Darrun Hilliard into 28th all-time on the Wildcat scoring list.
Kris Jenkins (35 Min, 12 Points, 3-9 FG/3PFG, 3-3 FT, 2 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 2 Turnovers, 2 Steals, 97 ORtg) Jenkins was quite one-dimensional in this game as DePaul put the clamps on his dribble-drive game and he was not able to get touches in the low blocks. He had some foul difficulty late in the game. Made two great passes in the game - both to Reynolds. Jenkins needs to be a more consistent contributor to the offensive cause. He took ZERO field goal attempts from inside the arc. His FTs came courtesy of being fouled on a pump-faked three-point attempt.
Darryl Reynolds (33 Min, 3 Points, 1-1 FG, 1-4 FTs, 5 Rebounds, 3 Turnovers, 1 Block, 62 ORtg) Last season, the Cast could rely on Ochefu to get a low post bucket and keep defenses honest or to create some offense from the low post with his ability to pass to three-point shooters and cutters. The Villanova offense lacks that component this season and has to rely on other ways to create offense. Reynolds needs to improve his ball security. As a Senior he needs to avoid the foul at all cost on the late play where he sent DePaul to the line to cut a two point lead to one. That is a critical point. The Cats dodged the bullet as Billy Garrett’s quality look from three just missed going in at the buzzer … but that foul could have led to Villanova having to go to overtime.
Mikal Bridges (33 Min, 8 points, 2-5 3PFG, 2-2 FTs, 7 Rebounds, 1 Turnover, 1 Block, 1 Steal, 109 ORtg) Bridges did a nice job on the defensive glass and stroked the three-ball well. He made a strong drive to the basket to get fouled and knocked down both FTs, He should perhaps be a bit more aggressive looking for his shot of the dribble and/or the offense should run a little more stuff for him. His defense remains “high level”
Jalen Brunson (34 Min, 13 Points, 5-7 FGs, 0-2 3PFG, 3-6 FTs, 4 Rebounds, 6 Assists, 3 Turnovers, 116 ORtg) Brunson played a high quality game on offense - making some key baskets in transition, keeping teammates engaged, and taking good care of the rock in the second half. Brunson was a perfect 5-5 from two-point range and did a nice job corralling some long rebounds.
Eric Paschall (13 Min, 3 Points, 3 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 2 Turnovers, 1 Block, 89 ORtg) Paschall had an okay game but simply needs to be more consistently productive given the Cats lack of bench depth. He was was the third of three rotation players that had zero FG attempts from two-point range. Paschall is expected to score some points as a slasher to the basket and on O-boards/put-backs - he had no low post touches. Drained a straight-away trey in the first half for his lone FG.
Donte DiVincenzo (16 Min, 4 Points, 1-3 FG, 1-2 3PFG, 1-2 FTs, 1 Rebound, 1 Assist, 3 Turnovers, 1 Steal, ORtg) DiVincenzo played a bunch of minutes late in the game given the foul difficulty to Jenkins. In those minutes he pulled down a strong defensive rebound, drained a left-wing, three-ball and converted 1-2 FTs when he got fouled late by the Demons. Overall, he didn’t provide much in the way of bench scoring earlier in the game and his 1/3 A/TO ratio needs is not going to be sufficient moving forward.
Villanova travels to #10 AP, Creighton for a huge game on New Year’s Eve (1 p.m. tip-off).