Top-ranked Villanova trounces DePaul



David Jarman

When the AP and Coaches Poll was released on Monday afternoon, Villanova would have a chance to become the number one team in the country for the first time in school history. This occurred because Oklahoma (previously ranked No. 1) lost to Kansas State and North Carolina (previously No. 2) lost 2 crucial games on the road at Louisville last Monday and at Notre Dame last Saturday.  

College basketball has been a wild and exciting season so far because the number one team in the country has changed quite a few times this season. With everyone in the country trying to chase you at the top, the pressure builds as teams approach each game during the season. On Tuesday night, the top-ranked ‘Cats were on display in Chicago to prove to everyone in the country that they deserve to be the number one team in the polls.

Coming off of their big win at Providence, Villanova knew they needed to get off to a quick start on the road if they wanted to be victorious tonight, and they did just that. In the opening 6 minutes of the game, Villanova was up 16-2 feeding Daniel Ochefu early (his first game back since missing three games with a concussion), and Josh Hart hitting two quick three-pointers and a dunk while cutting to the basket (assisted by Ochefu). This was similar to the 10-0 start at Providence two minutes into the beginning of that game.  The defense played really well in the first half, scoring 13 points off of 12 DePaul turnovers in the first half. Jay Wright had his team switch defenses a couple times, playing man-man and 2-3 zone as the ‘Cats took a 42-30 lead at halftime with a last second lay-up by Mikal Bridges.  

With Depaul still hanging around, Jay Wright knew that his team would need to start the second half off with a run to blow the game away, and the ‘Cats responded. Kris Jenkins (who finished with 13 pts) started the second half off with a three-pointer, and then Ryan Archidiacano hit another one from downtown on the next possession (which was his first FG of the game). Another three-pointer by the Wildacts forced DePaul to call a timeout with about 16 mins left in the second half. The 9-0 run in the second half continued from the end of the first half, which the ‘Cats outscored the Blue Demons 19-3 at the 14:55 mark in the second half.  At that point, Villanova did not look back. With a little over five minutes left in the game, the Wildcats had their largest lead at 30 with the score 77-47.

Jalen Brunson scored 11 points in his homecoming to Chicago where there were a handful of supporters from his high school. Josh Hart finished the game with 18 points, including the 1,000th point in his career. In the postgame interview with Fox Sports 1, Hart was very humbled with this accomplishment and thanked all of his teammates and coaches. Hart has played well in the last few games, and is in the running for Big East Player of the Year. Jay Billas of ESPN said on College Gameday over the weekend that Hart should be in the running for the John Wooden Award, given to the Nation’s Best College Basketball Player in the Country.  

Villanova will host Chris Mullin and St. Johns Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center. As the season plays on, there are high hopes for this veteran basketball team, as they have aspirations to go deep into the NCAA Tournament this year. As the team mentality goes, they need to take one game at a time.  

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