DePaul led the game 5-3 four minutes in and that was the last they would see of the lead. Villanova opened the floodgates with a 13-0 run to take the lead and never looked back. Their performance in the first half was reminiscent of playing a video game on easy mode. DePaul could not get to Nova's three point shooters in time, yet still found a way to leave the lane wide open on most plays.
No one decimated the Demons more from three than Ryan Arcidiacono and Darrun Hilliard, who combined for eight of Villanova's 13 three-pointers (tied for a season high), four each. Hilliard also had 4 steals, and though the stat line for Arcidiacono only reads 1, he broke up numerous plays in the backcourt that took away any momentum DePaul could have garnered.
Villanova's other starting guard, Dylan Ennis, had a slightly more quiet game. While his stroke seemed a bit off, and he did not crack the scoring column until the second half, Ennis was able to help out big time in other ways, most notably assists. The red shirt junior led the team with 7 assists, making Hilliard's 21 points possible.
Most of Villanova's bench got in towards the end of the game, which brought the score a little closer, but they were leading by as many as 34 in the second half.
DePaul simply looked overmatched. They had no answer for Villanova's size and were constantly getting flustered on offense. Every time they were able to break through to the post Daniel Ochefu and JayVaughn Pinkston were ready to deny them. No DePaul starter cracked double digits. Their leading scorers came off their bench, Tommy Hamilton with 12 and Darrick Wood with 10. This was due mostly to junk time though when Villanova edged off the throttle slightly.
The story of the game can be summed up by looking at the assist category, which Villanova led 23-7. As per usual, the Wildcats were unselfish and found their on-fire 3 point shooters. An ever-modest Jay Wright said postgame, "You can always get off threes, but we want to concentrate on getting good ones...We may have made some unnecessary passes in the first half to men who weren't open." I'd say Villanova was finding good threes today.
A high point of the game that won't reflect in any stat line was at the end of the first half when with two seconds left Josh Hart heaved a full court pass that Ochefu was able to control and quickly get over to Arcidiacono who drained a 10 foot jumper. Hopefully you saw that on TV because it was one of the coolest things that's happened in college hoops this year. According to Arciadiacono they do work on that play at every practice. Certainly paid off today.
DePaul may have been exposed after today's loss. Two of their first three wins were against Creighton (0-4) and Marquette (1-2) who sit at the bottom of the Big East. The Demons will have to figure out a better game plan to deal with Villanova's obvious size advantage when they meet them again on January 31 in Chicago.
Elsewhere in the top 10, #5 Louisville lost to UNC today, so expect to see the Wildcats move up a spot or two from #8 when the new rankings come out.
Villanova moves through the Big East schedule with a matchup at home against Xavier this Wednesday at 9. The game can be seen on Fox Sports 1.
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