It’s no secret that Jay Wright‘s squad loves to shoot three-pointers. After all, they have a saying, “Shoot ’em up, sleep in the streets.”
However, unlike the Xavier game, the key to victory didn’t come from beyond the arc. Villanova strayed away from its offensive philosophy, opting to take it inside instead.
The Wildcats shot an impressive 68-percent on the floor en route to an 85-71 victory over the Creighton Bluejays.
Villanova shot an even better 87.5% (28-of-32) from inside the arc. 44 of its 85 points came from inside the paint, a new season high.
As for their signature three-pointers?
The Wildcats didn’t find much success from long range. The three ball didn’t play a prominent role in the win, shooting only 6-of-18 (33.3%) from deep. Half of those didn’t come until the seven minute mark of the second half, and they came quick, only to pad Villanova’s lead.
Daniel Ochefu set the tone early, scoring 10 of Villanova’s first 14 points. The senior center went to work in the post with strong finishes around the basket. He even showed off his shooting stroke, knocking down a few mid-range jumpers.
His versatility on the offensive end helped him finish with an efficient 9-of-10 shooting performance on the floor. He finished with 19 points for the night, falling two points just short of tying a career-high.
However, he wasn’t the only one.
Josh Hart had a similar shooting night. The junior wing scored 25 points, also falling two points short of matching a career-high that he set earlier this season. He drained a couple of threes, but also found success driving to the basket and also off of cuts inside. He shot 10-for-14 on the floor.
The two got involved early, especially when Villanova needed such performances due to Creighton keeping it close in the first half.
Both teams are usually known for their sharpshooting, but that wasn’t the case tonight.
Like Villanova, Creighton also had its struggles from long range. The Bluejays made 5-of-23 (21.7%) three-point attempts.
Villanova grabbed an early lead and maintained it all throughout, but couldn’t separate itself from Creighton in the first half.
A late run and a James Milliken jumper trimmed the Wildcats’ lead to just five going into the break.
The Wildcats continued to shoot well and ride the momentum from the first half into the second half of the game.
They slowly stretched the lead into the double figures, only to see the Bluejays still linger around. Creighton would chip away at the lead and bring it back down to single digits, but could never knock down the crucial shots to really threaten Villanova’s lead.
Meanwhile, Villanova was still making shots at a high rate. Eventually, the Bluejays could no longer keep up.
Mikal Bridges sparked an 11-4 Villanova run with a layup after saving the ball from going out of bounds by reaching far back. Phil Booth capped off the run with a three-pointer at the 6:54 mark.
The run was exactly what the Wildcats needed to bring their lead back into double figures and keep it there.
Villanova maintained a steady pace until the final buzzer sounded.
Aside from the great shooting performances from Hart and Ochefu, Jalen Brunson and Ryan Arcidiacono were also able to eclipse the double digit scoring mark.
Brunson scored all of his 15 points in the second half of the game. He shot 6-of-8 on the floor and grabbed a pair of rebounds. Arcidiacono had 10 points, four rebounds, and four assists.
As for Creighton, leading scorer Geoffrey Groselle had a quiet night. The 7-foot center had been hot as of late, but the Wildcat defense denied him the ball. He finished with only four points and five rebounds.
Most of the work was done by Philadelphia native Maurice Watson Jr., Cole Huff, and Isaiah Zierden. Watson Jr. finished with a team-high 15 points and four assists. Zierden was right behind him with 14 points, while Huff added another 13.
The Wildcats improve to 12-2 overall after winning their first two games in conference play. They will return home for a game with another 2-0 team in Big East play in Seton Hall. Tip-off is on Wednesday, January 6, at 7 p.m.