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Cats Take Care of Demons

Villanova took care of business at DePaul Monday night to post a 75-62 win over the Blue Demons and remain firmly atop the Big East standings ...

Perennial Big East cellar-dweller, DePaul hosted conference leading, Villanova Monday night and the result was an unsurprising, 75-62 win for the Wildcats (#2 AP, 25-2 Overall, 12-2 Big East).  ‘Nova was led by a balanced scoring attack with four players in the teens and a strong defensive effort in the first half.  The Villanova Senior Class set a new record for career Big East wins (regular season and tournament combined) by a class (from any school in the league) with their 65th Big East win.

Jalen Brunson was the game MVP by virtue of a fabulous floor game and an efficient offensive performance.  Brunson posted 18 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and only 1 turnover.  Josh Hart dropped in 16 for the Cats, Mikal Bridges 15 and Kris Jenkins 13. 

Villanova mixed things up defensively and played a fair amount of zone defense, in part due to being only seven deep with scholarship players.  ‘Nova shot the ball better in the first half in part because of being more patient about finding good looks.  DePaul was 1-11 from three-point range in the first half and then caught fire to shoot 7-15 from beyond the arc in the second.

Goods:

  • +16 edge at the free-throw line
  • 50% shooting from two-point range
  • 26-32 (81.2%) from the free-throw line
  • 7-20 (35%) from beyond the arc

Others:

  • Out-rebounded 38-32
  • Allowed 44 second-half points

Players:

Josh Hart (29 Min, 16 Points, 4-9 FG, 2-3 3PFG, 6-7 FTs, 4 Rebounds, 1 Assists, 3 Turnovers, 2 Steals, 0 Blocks, 106 ORtg)  Hart heated up late to not only sneak into double-figures late in the game but to get all the way to 16 points.  He has scored in double-figures 32 straight games.  He didn’t force much of anything, he is content to facilitate, serve as a decoy and let his teammates get good looks.  Hart’s A/TO ratio was outside of his normal bounds but he made a number of nice passes that weren’t awarded with assists.

Kris Jenkins (34 Min, 13 Points, 2-8 FG, 1-5 3PFG, 8-8 FT, 8 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 2 Turnovers, 105 ORtg)  Jenkins was a work-horse on the defensive glass and put in a lot of effort on the defensive end.  He took full advantage of his trips to the free-throw line - which he earned, for the most part, with his pump fake game.  Credit Jenkins with a high quality game in this one despite what the shooting percentage may indicate.

Mikal Bridges (34 Min, 15 points, 6-12 FGs, 2-6 3PFG, 1-2 FTs, 3 Rebounds, 1 Assists, 2 Turnovers, 1 Steals, 3 Blocks, 100 ORtg)  Bridges did all kinds of fun stuff in this game - contributing in every facet.  He scored on transition dunks, half-court dunks, steals and break-away lay-ups, three-balls, and at the FT line.  Defensively, he had several deflections leading to turnovers, some impressive blocked shots where he leveraged his length and timing and he also denied the passing lanes well.  Bridges has been playing solid all-around basketball for weeks now.

Jalen Brunson (35 Min, 18 Points, 4-7 FGs, 2-3 3PFG, 8-9 FTs, 4 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 1 Turnovers, 3 Steal, 144 ORtg)  Easily the game MVP in this one.  Brunson controlled tempo, shot the ball with great efficiency, set up his teammates for good looks, took care of the rock and got after it on defense.   Like Bridges … and some, Brunson has been playing fabulous basketball of late.  Makes great decisions.  Rarely takes a bad shot.

Eric Paschall (27 Min, 7 Points, 3-4 FGs, 0-0 3PFG, 1-2 FT, 5 Rebounds, 0 Assists, 0 Turnovers, 0 Steals, 0 Block, 141 ORtg)  Paschall continues to be a bit too aggressive on defense, leading to fouls that are quite avoidable.  However, he is doing a better job rebounding the basketball on the defensive end and of taking better shots.  Paschall has been focusing more on his interior scoring and less on the three-ball.  He canned a nice, baseline jumper over a defender and posterized DePaul with a thunderous, first-half dunk.

Donte DiVincenzo (28 Min, 4 Points, 1-6 FG, 0-3 3PFG, 2-4 FT, 1 Rebound, 3 Assist, 1 Turnovers, 1 Steal, 2 Blocks, 64 ORtg)  DiVincenzo couldn’t get his shots to drop in this one but he brought it in other areas.  Great energy.  He had a couple of spectacular blocked shots (one may have been a goal-tending - but who cares), made a great hustle play to bat a ball out of bounds off of DePaul while racing out-of-bounds himself, and he distributed the ball well.

Dylan Painter (13 Min, 2 Points, 1-1 FG, 4 Rebounds, 2 TOs)  Painter drilled a baseline jumper in the second-half and did a good job rebounding the basketball.  These were easily the best 13 minutes of Painter’s young career.

Villanova (#2 AP, 25-2 overall, 12-2 Big East) travels to Seton Hall on Saturday.  Coach Wright is hopeful that Darryl Reynolds will be able to play on Saturday for the Cats - perhaps wearing a flak jacket to protect his rib injury.

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