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Cats Bludgeon Johnnies

Villanova advanced to the Big East Tournament Semi-Finals with a resounding, 108-67 win over St. John's this afternoon at the Garden ...

#2 AP, Villanova hammered St. John’s in the Quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament this afternoon at Madison Square Garden by a score of 108-67.  The 41 point margin of victory was the largest margin of victory for the Wildcats in any game against a Big East opponent (eclipsing a 38 point win over West Virginia in January of 2005.

Villanova Sophomore, Mikal Bridges left the game after playing only one minute due to complications from a stomach virus.  He sat on the bench with the team during the second half.  The Cats were led by a career-high 25 points from Donte DiVincenzo (who averaged 21.3 PPG against the Johnnies in three games this season), 24 from Kris Jenkins, and four other players in double-figures.

The Villanova offense was purring - to the tune of 1.59 points per possession.  23 assists on 36 made baskets is a quality indicator of how well the Cats shared the ball and exhibited the patience to look for great shots.  Extra passes galore allowed six Villanova players to post offensive efficiency ratings of 146 or above.

Defensively, Villanova wan’t as impressive but the ‘Nova dominated the boards with a 34-20 advantage on the glass.  The huge contributions off the bench will help the Cats stay fresh moving forward through March.

Goods:

  • +14 rebounding
  • Precise offensive execution - both in the half-court and breaking the Johnnies pressure
  • Shooting: 84% FT, 51.7% 3PFG, 75% 2PFG, 63.2% FG
  • 89 bench minutes with 52 points and 17 rebounds
  • After committing 43 TOs in the first two games with SJU, only 7 today
  • No personal fouls committed in the first half by ‘Nova

Others:

  • Allowed 41 second-half points

Players:

Josh Hart (25 Min, 15 Points, 6-10 FG, 1-3 3PFG, 2-3 FTs, 6 Rebounds, 5 Assists, 0 Turnovers, 3 Steals, 0 Blocks, 166 ORtg)  This was one of those ultra-efficient games from Josh Hart where the stat line isn’t flashy (no 20+ points, no double-figure rebounds) but the leadership, decision-making and selfless play are off the charts.  The type of game that may keep him from earning National POY honors but has consistently earned Villanova wins.  Key stat for Hart - 126-16 (.887).

Kris Jenkins (29 Min, 24 Points, 8-18 FG, 5-13 3PFG, 3-3 FT, 3 Rebounds, 6 Assists, 0 Steals, 1 Turnovers, 146 ORtg)  Jenkins was aggressive with his shot-taking and shot-making this afternoon.  He made a pair of great, spinning dribble moves in the paint and balanced his three-ball shooting with some work on the interior.  Jenkins made plenty of great decisions on offense, hit a buzzer-beating three from deep at the end of the first half and dished out six assists.   Great game from the Senior, who perhaps feels a little slighted in the recent All-Big East team announcements and wants to go out with a bang.  Ranked statistically among the Top 5 players in the Big East and having been selected Pre-Season All-Big East, it is only human to think Jenkins was expecting to at least make second-team All-Big East.

Mikal Bridges (1 Min, 0 points, 1 Assist)  Left the game with complication due to a stomach virus after only one minute of play - did not return.

Jalen Brunson (26 Min, 14 Points, 5-8 FGs, 2-4 3PFG, 2-2 FTs, 0 Rebounds, 5 Assists, 0 Turnovers, 0 Steals, 184 ORtg)  Strange game for Brunson in some respects.  It was an uber-solid floor game featuring great decision-making.  He was unselfish - getting the bigs and the guards equally involved.  What made things odd was that he had no rebounds and no steals.

Darryl Reynolds (27 Min, 0 Points, 0 Shots, 7 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 1 Turnover, 2 Steals, 106 ORtg)  Didn’t look to score - didn’t need to score.  He defended and contributed a great performance on the defensive glass.  27 solid minutes in only his second game back from the injury - very good sign for Villanova moving forward.

Eric Paschall (31 Min, 15 Points, 6-7 FGs, 2-3 3PFG, 3-3 FT, 5 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 2 Turnovers, 1 Steal, 0 Block, 152 ORtg)  Paschall stroked the trey with confidence and was aggressive off the bounce to.  He attacked the rim - he drained the mid-range jumper - he rebounded with strength and authority.  Quite a Big East Tournament debut for Paschall and perhaps his best all-around game in a Wildcat uniform.

Donte DiVincenzo (31 Min, 25 Points, 7-8 FG, 5-6 3PFG, 6-8 FT, 5 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 1 Turnover, 0 Steals, 0 Block, 190 ORtg)  DiVincenzo once again had a fabulous game against St. John’s.  He shot the ball beautifully, too care of the rock and facilitated for teammates as well.  Used his athleticism to defend and rebound quite effectively too.  The Cats got a 16-18 shooting performance out of the bench trio of DiVincenzo, Painter, and Paschall - ‘Nova will be awfully hard to beat in games where the bench produces at that high a level.

Dylan Painter (22 Min, 10 Points, 3-3 FG, 4-4 FT, 6 Rebounds, 0 TO, 210 ORtg)  Career highs in both scoring and rebounding for Painter in this one.  He finished around the rim and wasn’t afraid to mix it up in the paint to fight for rebounds.  It was encouraging to see the progress Painter has made to date - will it translate against teams with bigger and better big men?

Deep Bench: Tom Leibig earned the shout out for the walk-ons with a scrappy rebound and a steal during his 3 minute run.  Matt Kennedy got a two-minute burn.

Villanova (#2 AP, 29-3 overall) will face the winner of the Marquette - Seton Hall Quarterfinal game at 6:30 p.m. on Friday at Madison Square Garden (TV: FS1).

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