It was the game that everyone was waiting for the second Villanova exited the Verizon Center after suffering a 20 point loss to Georgetown. The Wells Fargo Center was filled to the brim, holding 20,587 people. It was the second largest crowd for a Villanova game since 2006, when 20,859 people watched #4 Villanova beat #1 UConn.
It took both teams a while to get started. Joshua Smith made the first basket of the game with 17:41 remaining. JayVaughn Pinkston would answer back with a nice dunk inside, only to have Jabril Trawick one-up him with a basket from long range. Trawick’s three pointer would be Georgetown’s first and last of the game. However, Darrun Hilliard had the last laugh. The senior guard sank a nice three off of a screen and was fouled during the shot. Hilliard converted the four point play, giving the Wildcats a 6-5 lead – their first of the game. It would not last long, as Georgetown made a basket to regain the lead.
The Wildcats proceeded to put on a dominant shooting display. Villanova went on to a 15-2 run, giving them the edge over Georgetown. The threes were falling for the Wildcats, nine of the 15 points came from long range. Villanova was able to get the ball to the open man and knock it down from deep. On the other hand, the Hoyas seemed flustered. Georgetown couldn’t hit it from deep and turnovers became an issue. They were much better prepared in the first game, where they had an answer for almost anything Villanova did. This time around, the same could no longer be said.
Most of Villanova’s first half points came from beyond the arc. The Wildcats drained seven of their 13 baskets from the three point line. Darrun Hilliard dealt most of the damage, supplying 14 points in the first half. While the offensive effort was spectacular, the defensive effort was just as good, if not better.
“We looked at the tape from last game as a staff,” said Villanova head coach Jay Wright. “We were so bad that it was hard to tell if it was our scheme or was it that we were that bad. We just weren’t doing any of the things we do. So we basically had the same game plan. We just played harder and did what we do better.”
Dylan Ennis and Darrun Hilliard led a stingy defense that limited the Hoyas to 9-of-29 (31.0%) shooting overall. Ennis added three vicious, athletic blocks and had two steals. Hilliard also had a block and a pair of steals that led to a number of fast break opportunities. Georgetown’s top scorer D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera was contained. Smith-Rivera was a key component to Georgetown’s victory over Villanova earlier this season, but was held to zero points in the first half. He had an air ball in the first half that the student section made sure he did not forget. The Wildcats took a 37-23 lead into the half.
The second half was much more tamed. Villanova’s big lead created enough momentum to last for the rest of the game. Georgetown’s Smith-Rivera made the first basket of the second half, off of a mid-range jumper. It would be the only basket that he would make for the whole game. On the other hand, the three ball continued to be kind for Villanova. Josh Hart was a perfect 3-for-3 from long range in the second half. The Wildcats pushed their lead into the twenties.
However, their offense wasn’t as smooth in the second half. Villanova had an uncharacteristic 14 turnovers that ruined their rhythm. Georgetown had stout help defense and double teams inside, limiting any action inside. It didn’t matter though – Villanova’s defense remained strong, holding the Hoyas to a 29% shooting percentage in the second half. Tensions ran high, as Darrun Hilliard and Jabril Trawick were both handed technical fouls midway through the second half. Both players were in each other’s faces at half court.
The Wildcats coasted to victory, winning 69-53. Everyone got a piece of the action today. The Wells Fargo Center was ecstatic when the Bench Mob checked in during the closing seconds of the game.
“Like coach has said in the past, we don’t look at it as revenge,” said Darrun Hilliard. “They played well when we played them at Georgetown. For us, we just take this as our next game. We wanted to be better than we were in our previous game.
Daniel Ochefu was benched from the starting lineup. The junior center was in trouble for “minor disciplinary issues.” The announcement came this morning. Jay Wright opted to start Josh Hart in his place. Ochefu did get into the game, logging 20 minutes of playtime. He did take any shots, finishing with no points. However, he did have five rebounds, three assists, a pair of steals, and a block.
Darrun Hilliard was the leading scorer for the Wildcats, with 15 points. Hilliard added six rebounds and four assists. Josh Hart had 13 points in his first career start for Villanova. The sophomore shot 3-for-4 from long range in the game. JayVaughn Pinkston chipped in 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Kris Jenkins made all three of his shots from downtown for a solid performance off the bench.
For Georgetown, L.J. Peak led the way with 15 points. Aaron Bowen was the only other player to finish in double figures for Georgetown. Bowen had 10 points and three rebounds.
The Wildcats sported their 1985 throwback jerseys, the same ones worn by the championship squad that beat the Patrick Ewing-led Hoyas in the finals.
Villanova improves to 21-2 overall and 8-2 in the Big East. Their next game will be this Wednesday night at 8 p.m. The Wildcats will hit the road and head over to the Dunkin Donuts Center for a game against the Providence Friars.