ROSEMONT, Ill. — No. 1 Villanova used a 19-0 run Tuesday to cruise past DePaul, 86-59, at Allstate Arena.
Here are The Catch and Shoot’s thoughts on a dominant victory for the nation’s top-ranked team:
Turnovers are always bad, but some untimely ones really hurt the Blue Demons. DePaul (8-16, 2-10 Big East) trailed 37-29 late in the first half and had the ball after a defensive stop. Darrick Wood raced to the left wing and had an open lane to the basket, but he stepped out of bounds as he received the pass.
Down 39-29, DePaul had a chance to take the final shot of the half. Then Eli Cain turned it over, and Villanova (21-3, 11-1) raced down the floor in the closing seconds for a buzzer beater. Although Wood got back for a terrific block, Villanova’s Mikal Bridges was there for a tip-in just before the horn sounded.
DePaul went from cutting Villanova’s lead to six points entering the final minute of the first half to going into the break down 12. Those types of swings are tough to overcome against the No. 1 ranked team.
Villanova built on that strong finish and scored the first 15 points of the second half.
Villanova dominated the interior game and outscored DePaul 36-16 in the paint. Senior center Daniel Ochefu, in his first game back after a concussion, was a load for DePaul to handle. He scored only 11 points but shot an efficient 4-of-6 from the field. His early dominance forced the Blue Demons to focus most of their attention on him.
Ochefu handled the attention well, passing out of double teams for four assists.
Reserve big man Darryl Reynolds gave DePaul issues as well, tallying 14 points and six rebounds. Simple mistakes such as not boxing out allowed Reynolds to turn two easy offensive rebounds into four extra points.
Relaxed perimeter defense allowed Villanova to shoot 9-of-23 on 3-pointers.
Statistically, Villanova is not a good 3-point shooting team. The Wildcats rank No. 252 in Division I at 32.7 percent entering Tuesday’s game. However, they’ve been a good bit better in Big East play, ranking No. 4 in the conference at 35.1 percent.
There’s no denying Villanova has some quality shooters, and DePaul did a poor, and sometimes lazy, job extending its defense to the 3-point line. Part of that was DePaul collapsing on Ochefu, but Villanova got several good looks on jumpers without a post entry.
The Wildcats did not have to work too hard to make nine 3-pointers and shoot for a 56.0 effective field-goal percentage.
Myke Henry’s double-digit scoring streak comes to a close. After being held to two points in the Big East opener, Henry had tallied a double-digit scoring total in each of the next 10 games, averaging 17.5 points per contest during that stretch.
Villanova held Henry to nine points on 3-of-12 shooting.
Josh Hart surpasses 1,000 career points. The Villanova guard reached a major milestone while scoring a game-high 18 points. His jump shot was grooving all evening, and DePaul could not find a way to stop him.
As a junior averaging 15.5 points per game, Hart has plenty of time to continue climbing in the Villanova record books.
Jalen Brunson gives the crowd a solid performance in his homecoming. The Lincolnshire native and Stevenson High School graduate dropped 11 points and four assists after receiving a big pregame ovation from a strong contingent behind the Villanova bench.
Marquette forward Henry Ellenson is the frontrunner for Big East Freshman of the Year, but Brunson is on pace to make the conference’s all-freshman team.