It doesn’t seem to be a Villanova / Xavier game without some injuries, and this game was no exception in highly anticipated game that turned into a 73-57 rout of previously 24th ranked Xavier. Before the game, Villanova starting forward Darryl Reynolds was ruled out due to bruised ribs. Then, Xavier star Trevon Bluiett re-injured his ankle. He tried to come back, but was very ineffective and pulled himself out of the game. After that, Xavier’s offense because throwing the ball at the hoop and going after the offensive rebound, which would have been effective if they could finish around the hoop, but getting 20 offensive rebounds often means you’re missing a lot of shots.
Here are my 5 givebacks (Just for you Von) J
1) The injury / unluckiness bug has hit the ‘Cats this year – Lots of talk about Villanova being very lucky with injuries, and on the whole, they have been, until this year. With Reynolds’ injury, Villanova has now missed 50 games from the 3 players expected to provide them minutes this year (Booth 23 games due to injury, Reynolds 1 game due to injury, Spellman 26 games due to NCAA buffoonery). The fact that Villanova received the #1 overall seed in the NCAA mock selection is a nod to Jay Wright.
2) Villanova played 6.0075 guys– With Reynolds out, many thought that Jay would turn to freshman big man Dylan Painter for 5-15 minutes, but Jay decided to go with his current rotation. Painter made a brief 20 second appearance in the first half and then played for 2 minutes in the second half while Villanova went to the 2/3 zone, which was as effective as it’s ever been. Dylan made a great hustle play to grab an offensive rebound after a missed transition layup and looked a little more comfortable out there, but he didn’t get much of an opportunity.
3) Jay won his 500th game –Pretty crazy that there were many board members, who still post to this day, who wanted Jay gone after the 2003-2004 season with an underachieving team who won two games in the BET, just to make the NIT. Jay is now 500-244. After Arch/Ochefu’s freshman year, Jay stood at 379-229. But winning 121 of your last 136 games will get you to 500 pretty quickly, and he still has more wins this season. Since that season with Arch/Ochefu as freshman, Jay has averaged 30 wins a season. While that seems overly optimistic, if Jay can average 27 wins a year for the next decade, he’ll get to 800 by the 2027-2028 season, or by the time he’s 67. He’d then be allowed to retire.
4) Brunson throws up a Mikal Bridges type box score – 17 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 1 steal in 36 minutes. While we all know Jalen isn’t the burner, the fact that he was getting around his man more and more, and making tougher and tougher layups is a great sign. While everyone knows that Villanova “shoots ‘em up and sleeps (stays?) in the streets” the fact that Jalen is getting to the rim more and more is a great sign, and while he 3 ball wasn’t falling on Saturday, he was 6 for 11 from 2 and 5 for 5 from the line.
5) Very interesting stats – Xavier definitely killed Villanova on the offensive glass, as Xavier pulled down 20 offensive rebounds while Villanova had 20 defensive rebounds. But a very interesting stat comes from the assist to made basket statistic. Usually, when a team gets an offensive rebound, they go right back up with the shot. However, Xavier only had 21 total baskets, yet they had 18 assists. If you get a rebound and go right back up with the shot, it’s not an assist. So while Villanova was giving up offensive rebounds at an alarming rate, a potential silver lining is that they rarely got an immediate put back and the ball was kicked out for a shot, or reset the offense, which likely happened as there were only 58 total possessions for the game.
An additional bonus stat is that after Xavier went 9-17 from the FT line, we went from 350th in the nation in FT defense, “giving up” over 75%, to now being 290th in the country and only “giving up” 72.6% from the line. Meanwhile, Villanova is shooting 80.5% from the FT line, 2nd best in the country behind Notre Dame, who is shooting 81.2% from the line.