Villanova won the Big East Tournament Championship this evening at a sold out Madison Square Garden with a resounding, 74-60 win over Creighton. The Wildcats (31-3) have most likely clinched the overall #1 Seed in the NCAA Tournament and the #1 spot in the Final AP Poll. This is the third Big East Tournament championship win for Villanova (1995, 2015 were the others).
National Player of the Year candidate, Josh Hart once again was the player of the game for the Cats. The senior played hard from the tip and posted 29 points and 6 rebounds while playing great defense. He finishes the season as the #1 ranked player in the country statistically per Kenpom. Jalen Brunson scored 17 points and dished out 5 assists, Kris Jenkins poured in 14 points and Donte DiVincenzo ripped down 8 rebounds for ‘Nova.
Jay Wright slowed the tempo of the game to slow the pace of the Creighton offense and in the half-court he used a combination of zone and man defenses to limit the effectiveness of Creighton’s best scorers. Offensively, the Cats had better spacing, better passing and created more high quality looks against the Jays than against Seton Hall yesterday. Hart was aggressive offensively throughout the game instead of waiting until the team needed him to step up.
- Held Creighton to 6-24 (25%) from three-point range
- +9 advantage at the free-throw line
- +9 advantage from beyond the arc
- +4 in steals
- 15-19 (78.9%) free-throw shooting
- 34.6% 3PFG with 9 made threes
- Slight edge on the glass
- 15 Turnovers
Josh Hart (36 Min, 29 Points, 9-18 FG, 4-8 3PFG, 7-8 FTs, 6 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 3 Turnovers, 0 Steals, 0 Blocks, 123 ORtg) Hart played like a National POY from start to finish. He was a defensive demon, drilled threes, and got to the rim with frequency and efficiency. He earned BET MVP for the second time (joining Patrick Ewing and Peyton Siva as the only two-time winners of the coveted Dave Gavitt Trophy - Hart was the only one of the three to win it in non-consecutive seasons). He is playing at a high level right now … at the right time of the year. Hart passed Ed Pinckney for 10th all-time on the Villanova career scoring list and surpassed the 800 rebound milestone as well.
Kris Jenkins (24 Min, 14 Points, 6-13 FG, 2-6 3PFG, 0-1 FT, 2 Rebounds, 2 Assist, 1 Steal, 3 Turnovers, 1 Block, 88 ORtg) Jenkins opened the game with two quick three-balls and looked to be ready for a big scoring output. However, two quick personal fouls sent him to the bench for an extended time and he lost his groove from three the rest of the way. He did do some damage offensively with his mid-range game and was a solid defender for the Cats. Named to the All Big East Tournament team.
Mikal Bridges (32 Min, 5 points, 2-6 FG, 0-4 3PFG, 1-1 FT, 5 Rebound, 2 Assists, 79 ORtg) Though he missed all three of his deep shots they were all seemingly just a hair off. Bridges was a force on defense and chipped in on the glass.
Jalen Brunson (34 Min, 17 Points, 5-7 FGs, 3-4 3PFG, 4-5 FTs, 2 Rebounds, 5 Assists, 2 Turnovers, 0 Steals, 153 ORtg) Another strong outing from Brunson earned him a spot on the All-Big East Tournament team. He provided some scoring punch (especially from beyond the arc) and did a good job of sharing the rock with his teammates. He made excellent decisions in transition.
Darryl Reynolds (20 Min, 2 Points, 1-1 FG, 3 Rebounds, 0 Assists, 0 Turnover, 2 Steals, 0 Blocks, 206 ORtg) He finally took his first FG attempt of the BET … and dropped in the lay-up. His defense and rebounding have been high quality since his return from injury.
Eric Paschall (28 Min, 2 Points, 0-1 FGs, 0-1 3PFG, 2-2 FT, 5 Rebounds, 0 Assists, 0 Turnovers, 2 Steals, 0 Blocks, 116 ORtg) What stood out about Paschall in this game was his effort on both ends of the floor. He batted a ball loose from a Jay by racing back in transition and was a bull defensively in the paint. Scored his only two points from the stripe when he connected on both ends of a key one-and-one situation in the second half.
Donte DiVincenzo (22 Min, 5 Points, 2-8 FG, 0-3 3PFG, 1-2 FT, 8 Rebounds, 3 Assist, 4 Turnover, 2 Steals, 0 Blocks, 66 ORtg) DiVincenzo was a stand-out performer on the glass. His athleticism on the boards and defensively was a difference-maker in this game. He had a very strong showing in the BET and should be ready to contribute in the NCAAs.
Dylan Painter (4 Min) Painter gave the primary rotation guys some rest in the first half.
Villanova (#2 AP, 31-3 overall) now awaits Selection Sunday. Most likely, Villanova will get the #1 Seed in the East Regional and play a first round game in Buffalo, NY next Thursday.