Hot-shooting Villanova throttles DePaul
ROSEMONT, Ill. - Villanova learned Tuesday night that basketball can be an easy game when the five players on the floor simply make an extra pass or two.
Two days after poor and rushed shots led to a deflating home defeat against Providence, the Wildcats conducted a near-clinic in the second half against DePaul, erupting for 54 points on 68.8 percent shooting and rolling to a 94-71 rout of the Blue Demons at Allstate Arena.
This hardly looked like the same team. Villanova (14-9, 5-5 Big East) shot 27.5 percent with nine assists Sunday in its 55-52 loss to Providence. The Cats shot a season-best 59.6 percent and dished out 18 assists against the bewildered Blue Demons (10-12, 1-8), who lost their seventh straight game.
Villanova coach Jay Wright called it "the best we've shared the ball all year."
"We were concerned," he said. "We liked their aggressiveness against Providence but we didn't make good decisions. We didn't want to lose our aggressiveness tonight and that's what was really encouraging for us, that we still played aggressively but we played intelligently, which we haven't done a lot this year."
Freshman point guard Ryan Arcidiacono hit five three-point baskets and scored 23 points to lead six Wildcats in double figures. He directed an offense that committed just three turnovers against the pressing Blue Demons in the second half.
"We were just trying to make plays for each other, getting into the paint and jump-stopping and trying to find each other," he said. "Everyone made extra passes. We didn't make those extra passes against Providence. We got wide-open shots as compared to just OK contested shots."
And to think this looked in the first half as if it would be a nail-biter with the two teams at 40 at the break.
But the Wildcats started the second half on a torrid streak, sinking their first six shots. Less than eight minutes in, they were 11 of 12 from the field and scored on 12 of their first 14 possessions.
Arcidiacono's three-ball boosted the lead to 68-53 with 10 minutes, 43 seconds left. The Wildcats later drained seven consecutive shots and the margin climbed to 27, 94-67, on James Bell's trey with 3:35 remaining.
At that point, the Cats were 22 of 27 (81.5 percent) and appeared to be a lock to reach 100 points. But they never scored again.
No one was complaining.
"We didn't handle the press well the last game," Wright said. "Then we come in here and we do a good job. If you give us do-overs, we're good. But that was our best game. We played really well."
Contact Joe Juliano at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @joejulesinq.