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'Nova Slogs Past St. John's

In what was a sloppy offensive game for the Cats, Villanova used defense and rebounding to surpass St. John's 70-57 today at the Garden in New York ...

#3 AP, Villanova took over sole possession of first place in the Big East by posting a 70-57 win over St. John’s at Madison Square Garden today to advance to 5-1 in league play (17-1 overall).  The Cats move to 100 games over .500 over the past 3 seasons and change with a record of 114-14 since the beginning of the 2013-14 season.

This wasn’t a vintage Wildcat performance (9 Assists / 20 Turnovers and a combined 5-23 shooting output from Senior stars Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins) but it was an excellent development opportunity for Donte DiVincenzo and Eric Paschall.  The bench duo tallied 28 points between them while posting Offensive Efficiency ratings over 150 for the contest.

It was Villanova’s defense and domination of the backboards that allowed them to pull off the conference road win despite and overall lackluster offensive performance.

‘Nova got a career-high, 19 points from DiVincenzo, 12 from Mikal Bridges, 11 from Hart and 10 from Kris Jenkins (off one made field goal).

Goods:

  • Defense (held St. John’s to 0.81 points per possession)
  • Allowed only 40% FG shooting (48% shooting from 2-point range, 32% from three)
  • 13 offensive rebounds (compared to 3 for the Johnnies)
  • 41-23 overall edge in rebounding
  • 28 bench points

Others:

  • 20 turnovers with only 9 assists

Players:

Josh Hart (33 Min, 11 Points, 4-13 FG, 2-6 3PFG, 1-2 FT, 6 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 4 Turnovers, 2 Steals, 77 ORtg)  St. John’s did a nice job of trying to take away Hart’s drive to the left - both guarding him on the ball and on screens/pick-and-roll.  Hart played a quality, high-energy spurt in the second half where he brought some scoring and rebounding at a time the Cats really needed it in order to maintain a good working lead over the Red Storm.  Hart became only the third Villanova guard all-time to amass over 700 career rebounds (joining Kerry Kittles and Hubie White - two guys with their jerseys retired).  This was Hart’s least efficient offense game since the NCAA Regional Final game against Kansas last March.

Kris Jenkins (25 Min, 10 Points, 1-10 FG, 1-7 3PFG, 7-9 FT, 6 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 2 Steals, 1 Block, 2 Turnovers, 83 ORtg)  The normally sharp-shooting, Jenkins struggled with his deep shooting in this game … when he finally did drain a trey it came at a key point late in the second half - he always keeps his confidence and keeps shooting.  Jenkins chipped in on the glass and played some solid defense at key junctures.  Jenkins has had his hot and cold games on offense through the season because of his reliance on the three-ball.  DOn’t be surprised if he bounces back quickly at the Pavilion on Monday evening.

Darryl Reynolds (14 Min, 1 Points, 0-1 FG, 8 Rebounds, 1 Turnover, 0 Steals, 80 ORtg) Reynolds was a beast on the glass during his fourteen minutes of action.  He set some solid screens in the half-court offense and to help the Cats to break pressure.

Mikal Bridges (34 Min, 12 points, 4-7 FGs, 1-2 3PFG, 3 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 4 Turnovers, 2 Steals, 100 ORtg)  Bridges provided timely scoring and rebounding but was a little sub-par defensively.  Overall, this was a solid game for Bridges.  He provided a lot of high energy minutes and effort in a game where the Cats were a little out of synch most of the way.

Jalen Brunson (37 Min, 8 Points, 4-6 FGs, 0-1 3PFG, 0-2 FTs, 5 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 7 Turnovers, 1 Steal, 69 ORtg)  After a couple of superb outings, Brunson had a rough go of it in this one.  It was the turnovers that were a killer.  Brunson made some excellent passes, took a leadership role on some key possessions and chipped in with some rugged rebounds at critical moments.  Credit Brunson with putting forth a workman-like effort and grinding the game out despite not being at his best.

Eric Paschall (26 Min, 9 Points, 4 Rebounds, 4-6 FGs, 0-0 3PFGs, 1-1 FTs, 4 Rebounds, 0 Assists, 0 Turnover, 0 Block, 0 Steal, 157 ORtg)  Paschall played well under the bright lights of MSG.  He finished his opportunities around the rim, took good shots, was strong with the ball and played a physical brand of defense.

Donte DiVincenzo (31 Min, 19 Points, 7-10 FG, 3-5 3PFG, 2-2 FTs, 3 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 2 Turnovers, 0 Steals, 153 ORtg)  DiVincenzo has a break-out game on the big stage this afternoon.  He earned a ton of playing time while showing a lot of offensive versatility.  He has shown sparks of a great first step as a break-down offensive player form the wing and has shot it well in some games … but in this game he put it all together like never before in his career.  DiVincenzo made some a couple of “extra pass” assists, stroked the deep ball well, got to the rim, rebounded with authority, and canned a sweet, step-back jumper from a little off the baseline in front of the ‘Nova bench.  He and Paschall came up big in a game where Villanova truly needed the bench to step up and contribute.

Villanova plays Seton Hall on Monday night at 6:30 at the Pavilion as part of a special, Big East, M.L.K. Day quintuple-header!

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