In a game that was the coronation for Villanova’s third straight Big East regular season title, the Wildcats stayed far away from complacency.
It was their first game three-peating as regular season champions, and it has become a routine since conference realignment.
There was a lot to celebrate in Villanova’s convincing 83-62 win over the DePaul Blue Demons on Tuesday night.
Not only was there fanfare for another award being added to its trophy case, but also for Villanova’s Kris Jenkins, whose 31 points and sharpshooting helped lead the Wildcats to victory. He continued his excellent play during the second half of the season to new heights.
After the Blue Demons used a 7-0 run to close in on the Wildcats to make it an 11-10 game early, the junior forward made his mark.
Jenkins set the tone early, scoring 14 straight points to give Villanova a 25-10 lead with 10:26 remaining in the first half. During that stretch, he made four straight 3-pointers, as Villanova took a commanding lead.
The Wildcats used the scoring spurt to take a 51-33 lead going into halftime, by then, Jenkins already had 20 points.
The break didn’t seem to deter his shooting rhythm. He made back-to-back threes to start the second half, continuing right from where he left off.
Villanova kept the Blue Demons away with its strong defense. While DePaul shot a respectable 23-of-49 (46.9 percent) overall and 9-of-16 (56.3%) from beyond the arc, it coughed the ball up an unforgivable 17 times.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats were efficient on the floor and with taking care of the ball, shooting 50 percent overall and only turning the ball over five times.
Jenkins’ onslaught died down a bit in the second half, as he did not score as much as he did in the first. His basket from beyond the arc gave Villanova a 61-39 lead with 13:09 left in the game. It also gave him his eighth 3-pointer of the night, tying the school record for most threes in a game.
He finished shooting 11-of-18 on the floor, and 6-of-11 from long range.
Aside from Jenkins, Josh Hart was the only other Wildcat to eclipse double figures in points. He finished with 18 points, off of 6-of-11 shooting, and three boards. Ryan Arcidiacono only had six points but had seven assists, with no turnovers.
As for DePaul, freshman guard Eli Cain led the team with 14 points. Myke Henry had 13 points, nine rebounds, and three assists. Aaron Simpson chipped in 11 points, earning them all in the first half.
Villanova improves to 26-4 overall and 15-2 in Big East play. The Wildcats will conclude the regular season on Saturday, with a 12 p.m. matinee against their rival Georgetown.
Tuesday night’s win also marks the third straight season Villanova has had an undefeated record at the Pavilion. Saturday’s game will take place at the Wells Fargo Center.