Villanova sets shot block record, crushes Nicholls State

Villanova's Jalen Brunson tries to take the ball from Nicholls State's Lafayette Rutledge during the first half.

It took Villanova four seconds to score the game’s first basket. The Wildcats blocked three shots in eight seconds, which may be some kind of record. The crowd at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night resembled an NCAA tournament practice session, but the fans were treated to a dominating performance by the Cats against the Nicholls State Colonels, a team that scored 111 points in its opening-game win against Texas-Rio Grande Valley.

After a few minutes, the only question was: Would the Wildcats exceed that total? They got there in a 113-77 win that surely could have been worse had not a benevolent coach Jay Wright mostly called off the defensive pressure in the second half.

“We just played two contrasting styles,” Wright said. “It was Columbia with a Princeton-like offense.”

Nicholls, the coach said, “almost let you score.”

[Box score]

The Colonels were able to outscore Rio Grande Valley, 111-106. Villanova also played defense.

“We’re a young team that needs a lot of work,” Wright said. “This is a young team for us. The defense was more about athleticism than defensive technique.”

It was 6-6 and then it was 35-11. After 12 minutes, Villanova (2-0) had scored those 35 points on just 23 possessions, an insane 1.52 points per possession. The Wildcats cooled off, but the point had been made.

This was going to be the full Villanova, different than recent seasons, but very much still one of the country’s best teams. By halftime, the Colonels (1-1) had more turnovers and shots blocked (17) than made field goals (12), generally not a good formula for success.

Meanwhile, Mikal Bridges, who took the opening tap and scored, blocked two jumpers before Omari Spellman spiked a layup in that eight-second defensive tour de force. Bridges had 17 points by halftime and finished with a career-best 23. Villanova had a school-record 13  blocked shots and 12 dunks.

“We didn’t let up,” Bridges said of the three-block sequence. “They got an offensive rebound and Omari [blocked] it.”

The Colonels, from Thibodaux, La., were your classic “opponent.’’ Life should be a bit more comfortable in the Southland Conference and against the four non-Division I opponents on their schedule.

The Wildcats won the lane “battle,” 56-26 . They had six players in double figures, including Donte DiVincenzo with 20 off the bench.

When asked about which style his team preferred to play against, DiVincenzo said: “We can play against both.”

He’s right, of course. In fact, counting scrimmages and exhibitions against Drexel, Pittsburgh and Virginia, the Wildcats have already played against all kinds of styles.

Villanova was very committed in Game No. 2. The Wildcats were also sharp, witness 28 assists on the 42 field goals, 57.5 percent shooting and no letup even when the game got so quickly out of hand.

 

Camera icon Steven M. Falk
Villanova’s Mikal Bridges tries to block Nicholls State’s Roddy Peters during the 1st half at The Wells Fargo Center, in Philadelphia, Tuesday, November 14, 2017. STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer