Villanova defeats Creighton in convincing fashion

TJ Farrell

Three weeks can sometimes feel like a century in college basketball terms. Postseason tournaments like the NIT and NCAA stretch about three weeks from start to finish. The last time Villanova played in its on-campus home was exactly 21 days ago against Marquette.  To put that into perspective, the last time Villanova played in the Pavilion, David Blatt was still the coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Adele had just finished her “Carpool Karaoke” drive with James Corden, and some students where still getting back from winter break.

“Its nice to be home in the Pavilion,” said Jay Wright, smiling from ear to ear after his team defeated the Creighton Blue Jays 83-58 in front of a rambunctious crowd that desperately missed their Wildcats playing at the Pavilion.

On the first offensive drive from the Wildcats, Junior Kris Jenkins found himself with the ball on the wing and a little bit of space between he and his man. A loud yell of “get ready for fire,” by Blue Jays’ center Zach Hanson came from the paint, warning his teammate that Jenkins was about to fire up a three. The warning came too late as Jenkins nailed the contested three, a sight that all in attendance would see over and over throughout the night.

Jenkins finished with a team high 22 points, one shy of his season and career high. “Jenkins is certainly an improved player from last year,” said Blue Jays’ head coach Greg McDermott.

Jenkins was not alone behind the arc against the Blue Jays as the team shot 16-29 from distance, good for 55% on the night. Six out of the seven regular rotational players knocked down a three, but the MVP on the night for the Wildcats may have been the lone player to not attempt one.

Junior Darryl Reynolds started his first game of his career at the Pavilion on Wednesday night.  It was his third consecutive start in place of senior captain Daniel Ochefu, who has missed time due to a concussion.

Reynolds was spectacular as he grabbed a career high 13 rebounds, nine in the first half, to go along with four points and incredible defense on not only the Blue Jays’ big men, but also their guards when needed.

“He did a lot of good things tonight,” said his head coach after the game. “There were a number of situations when he got switched on to (Maurice) Watson, and he did a great job staying in front of him. Then we didn’t have to help…that’s impressive when your 5 man can switch on to a point guard.”

Lacking Ochefu on the boards may have seemed troublesome at first, but the Wildcats did a fantastic job rebounding as a team. They outrebounded the Blue Jays 38-27 on the glass, including a plus two advantage in the offensive rebounding category. There were multiple occasions where guards such as Ryan Arcidiacono or Jalen Brunson did an incredible job boxing out much bigger opponents while teammates Josh Hart or Mikal Bridges swooped in to the vacated space to grab the open board.

The ‘Cats played an all around excellent game and really seemed to gel for the first time without Ochefu. The next matchup will be a rematch with the nationally ranked Providence Friars, this time in Rhode Island at the Dunkin Donuts Center on Saturday. The Wildcats will be looking for revenge as they dropped the last game against the Friars in heartbreaking fashion; a hard fought 82-76 overtime loss. The game is at 2:30 and will air on Fox Sports 1.