We like to observe history as a way to learn from it, to celebrate the good times and ensure that mistakes are not replicated.
Last year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Wildcats moved up to #4 in the polls and were set to face unranked Creighton that night. Villanova was simply outclassed that night, picked apart by the sharpshooting of the Bluejays. Fast forward to earlier today, to when the new AP and Coaches’ Polls were released. Villanova moved up to #4, just in time for tonight’s clash with their old Big East rivals, the Georgetown Hoyas. Like Creighton, Georgetown entered the matchup unranked.
It took the Wildcats a while to get their first basket of the game. They were able to get their scoring done from the free throw line, starting out a perfect 4-for-4. Both teams were tied going into the first media timeout. After the brief intermission, Georgetown went on a 7-0 run to take the lead. Ryan Arcidiacono knocked down a three pointer to give the Wildcats their first basket of the game, with 14 minutes left in the first half. Villanova would slowly close in, trailing 13-11 at the under-12 media time out. Midway through the first half, Georgetown went on a 17-0 run that spanned for 4:50. Georgetown took a balanced approach during the offensive streak. They knocked down three pointers, they made mid-range jumpers, and drove inside through traffic. Everything seemed to be falling for the Hoyas. On the other hand, the Wildcats were in trouble. Georgetown’s stifling defense created turnovers and gave no easy looks to their opponents. Villanova had an uncharacteristic 17 turnovers for the whole game. The Hoyas’ defenders stuck to Villanova’s players like glue, setting a precedent for the rest of the way. Georgetown slipped right past screens and had great help defense inside the paint, where Joshua Smith was a force to be reckoned with. The titan-like center had his way around the basket and when it came to fighting for rebounds, or playing defense.
They harassed the Wildcats and contested nearly every shot. Barely anything was falling for Villanova, while the same could not be said for Georgetown. The Hoyas built on their lead, pushing it into the twenties. In the closing moments of the first half, Darryl Reynolds was fouled while attempting a final shot, with 0.3 seconds left. Reynolds made one of two from the line. Villanova trailed Georgetown 42-20 going into the half. The Hoyas had the Wildcats beat in almost every facet of the game. They shot 60% overall in the first half alone. They outplayed Villanova on offense and defense, as well as outmuscling them on the boards.
The second half began the same way the first half went for Villanova – missed shots, turnovers, and struggles on both ends of the court. The game got more physical as the second half unraveled, both teams getting whistled foul after foul. By the end of the night, both teams combined for 51 fouls and 68 free throws.
After a pair of foul shots by D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, the Hoyas doubled the Wildcats’ points with 16:24 remaining. Georgetown now had a 50-25 lead over their rival. However, Villanova showed some flashes of life. They would go on an 8-0 run of their own, capped off by a corner three pointer by Arcidiacono. An and-one for Joshua Smith brought the Georgetown lead back to 20, but the Wildcats did not go down quietly. A pair of JayVaughn Pinkston free throws brought the Wildcats to within 12 points of their opponents. It would be the closest that Villanova would get in the second half. They would go cold and have some untimely turnovers that allowed Georgetown to rebuild their big lead and kill the clock.
Villanova’s press did not seem to faze Georgetown. They were poised when facing the high pressure defense, breaking it down with relative ease. They were able to do what other teams couldn’t, decipher it. The Hoyas got the ball out to the open man, who would be able to drain the shot. On the other hand, Villanova continued to struggle in the face of the Hoya defense. However, the second half was an improvement for the Wildcats. They shot 8-for-19 overall (5-for-13 from three point range), outdoing their first half shooting of 6-for-22 (27.3%). Also, they did pretty well from the free throw line, making 17 of 22 attempts in the second half. Daniel Ochefu and Josh Hart fouled out late in the second half, hampering the hopes for a comeback. The lead that Georgetown built in the first half was just too much for Villanova to overcome. Smith-Rivera chipped in the last few points of the game, sinking two free throws with under a minute to go. Georgetown emerged victorious, winning 78-58.
Georgetown students stormed the court in celebration of the upset win, much to the disappointment of Hoya head coach John Thompson III.
Ryan Arcidiacono paced the Wildcats with a 16 point performance. He shot 5-for-8 overall, including four baskets from long range. Josh Hart added 10 points off the bench.
As for the Hoyas, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Isaac Copeland led the way with 17 points each. The two combined for a 16-for-18 performance from the free throw line tonight. Jabril Trawick had 10 points and four steals. Joshua Smith finished with nine points and eight rebounds.
The Wildcats are now 17-2 for the season and 4-2 in conference play. They will now have a little break, resuming action on Sunday, January 25th, at 7 p.m. for a home game against Creighton.