No. 2 ‘Cats ease past DePaul, gear up for Seton Hall for third straight road game



Wyatt Noble

The No. 2 ranked Wildcats picked up a routine win on Monday night against  a struggling DePaul by the score of 75-62. With senior captain and center Darryl Reynolds out for the second straight game with a rib injury, the Wildcats found themselves even more shorthanded than usual, but ultimately cruised to their 14th straight victory against DePaul.

This particular matchup marked a homecoming of sorts for sophomore point guard Jalen Brunson, who starred on the Illinois prep basketball team in nearby Lincolnshire in his high school days.

Despite speculation that the pressure of playing in front of family, friends and former classmates might weigh heavily upon him, Brunson scored a team-high 18 points while going 4-for-8 from the field and 8-for-9 at the free throw line. Brunson also notched four assists, four rebounds and three steals in what was another dominant game for the rising star.

Brunson was not the only one who had a strong game for the Wildcats. All of the starters, with the exception of Eric Paschall, scored at least 10 points.

Josh Hart scored 16 while going 4 of 9 from the field and 6 of 7 from the free throw line, Mikal Bridges had 15 points and Kris Jenkins notched 13. Even freshman big man Dylan Painter got in on the action, picking up a bucket in the early stages of the game to put the Wildcats up 12-4 with 14:42 left to play in the first half. Painter also snagged four rebounds and played a season high 13 minutes.

Up 39-18 at the halfway point, the Wildcats’ stifling defense once again proved pivotal as they held their opponents to a mere 22 of 58 from the field and forced them into committing 14 turnovers, off of which the Wildcats scored 16 of their points.

Villanova took their foot off the pedal a bit at the end after racing out to 48-21 lead with 13:31 left to play in the second half, but the 27 point lead proved insurmountable for DePaul who limped to their 18th loss of the season.

The Wildcats will finish off their three game road trip at Seton Hall on Saturday afternoon at 12:30 pm. Despite defeating Seton Hall by 30 points during their first meeting in January the Wildcats can ill afford to take this last game of their round trip lightly. A win would put the team tantalizingly close to another Big East conference title with their closest competitors, Creighton and Xavier, currently sitting three games back.