The Wildcats used defense, rebounding and grit to remain competitive with #7 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome on Saturday despite another cold shooting performance. A two point 'Nova half-time lead was erased and the Orange were able to race to a large lead mid-way through the second-half when a flurry of Villanova turnovers led to some easy baskets in transition for 'Cuse and C.J. Fair began to heat up in the half-court. To the Wildcats credit they didn't quit. However, when you can't make shots or get a series of defensive stops a lead in the teems is insurmountable.
The 'Nova bigs were effective in the first-half both on the offensive glass and scoring the ball. As the Wildcat shooters continued to lay bricks from the perimeter, the Syracuse second-half defense shut down the lane on 'Nova and did a better job controlling the boards. 13 of Villanova's 32 second-half points came from the free-throw line as they managed to make only 8 FGs (three of those being three-pointers). Those numbers indicate an offense that struggled to create quality scoring chances. The Orange weren't giving the Cats anything easy in transition either as they committed only two second-half turnovers.
The Wildcats had a seven game winning streak snapped and have now lost fourteen consecutive games against ranked opponents.
First half defense
Ochefu and Yarou combined for 15 points, 21 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks
22-28 FT shooting (78.6%)
Not so goods:
Interior defense in the second half was poor - allowing too many easy looks for 'Cuse (12-22 shooting from the floor)
21.7% 3PFG shooting (consecutive frigid games from deep)
38.7% 2PFG shooting
31.5% overall FG shooting
Player Evals & Stats
35 Min, 2-8 FG, 1-7 3PFG, 2-2 FT, 1 Reb, 4 Asst, 6 TO, 0 Stl, 7 Pts
After shooting 0-4 from the floor with 4 assists and 3 turnovers in the first half, Arcidiacono picked up his own scoring with a 2-4 shooting performance in the second half … however, the Orange defense shut down Arcidiacono's passing options. The result was a 0 assist and 3 turnover second-half for the Frosh point. This game should serve as a positive step in Arcidiacono's maturation process as a Big East guard.
26 Min, 2-9 FG, 0-5 3PFG, 4-6 FT, 2 Reb, 1 Asst, 1 TO, 2 Stl, 0 Blk, 8 Pts
Not his best defensive game. Hilliard was strong with the ball and continues to demonstrate some ability to create his own shots. The issue is that he can't finish his shots nor does he create for others well off the bounce. At some point things will hopefully click and he will be able to hit shots with some consistency. As is, it is hard to recall a game in which he developed any kind of shooting rhythm - to the point of even making consecutive jump shots. One concern with his shot is how flat a trajectory he puts on it.
18 Min, 3-9 FG, 0-1 3PFG, 6-8 FT, 1 Rebs, 0 Asst, 3 TO, 0 Blk, 0 Stl, 12 Pts
Pinkston was very aggressive taking the ball into the teeth of the Syracuse zone. The aggression is a positive but from a tactics stand-point, driving the lane in the 'Cuse isn't the most efficient way to score the ball. He had trouble getting clean looks as he was swarmed in the paint. Pinkston continues to be a liability more than asset on the defensive end of the court - this is the primary reason his minutes are limited.
24 Min, 2-5 FG, 2-5 3PFG, 2-2 FT, 2 Rebs, 1 Asst, 1 TOs, 0 Blk, 1 Stl, 8 Pts
Bell continues to struggle with foul problems. What Villanova needed from him in this game was more than simply three-point shooting. He did nothing off the dribble, nothing from mid-range and nothing to try to get the defense to react to him and create space for teammates. A quiet game for a Junior, on the road, leading a young team.
35 Min, 3-6 FG, 5-6 FT, 14 Rebs, 2 Asst, 2 TO, 1 Blk, 0 Stl, 11 Pts
The Mouph resurgence continues. He scored the ball with efficiency (probably could have used some more touches from mid-range against the zone but he isn't the type of player with the savvy to go find the open space and make himself available for the ball. Dominated the glass and again played with more energy and focus than he did early in the season.
8 Min, 0-2 FG, 0-0 3PFG, 0-0 FTs, 1 Rebs, 0 Stl, 0 Asst., 0 TOs, 0 Pts
It shouldn't be unreasonable to expect a Junior point guard with starters experience to be more effective running an offense against a zone. The offense didn't look good during the brief stint with Chennault at the helm. Needs to step up his game for the upcoming meat grinder portion of the Big East schedule.
4 Min, 1-2 FG, 1-2 FT, 3 Rebs, 1 Asst., 0 TO, 2 Blks, 0 Stl, 3 Pts
Played well in limited minutes. The 4 and 5 spots appear to be team strengths now while the team longs for a) a go-to scorer who can create for himself and score when the team really needs a basket and b) a sniper, off the ball, from deep
29 Min, 1-6 FG, 0-0 3PFG, 2-2 FTs, 7 Reb, 1 Asst, 2 TO, 2 Blk, 1 Stl, 4 Pts
This performance was not up to the standard he set for himself against USF but it was reasonable for a Frosh big against the Syracuse zone. He struggled to finish around the cup with multiple defenders bearing down on him. COntinues to do a nice job on the boards - tends to get his hands on everything in his area.
21 Min, 3-7 FG, 2-5 3PFG, 0-0 FTs, 4 Rebs, 1 Asst, 0 Stl, 1 TO, 0 Blk, 8 Pts
If he could handle and pass the ball at a 2 guard level, he would be getting 30+ minuets per game. His defense and three-ball shooting are consistent. The fact he has been to the free-throw line only 8 times in 245 minutes of play tells you all you need to know about the lack of versatility in his offensive game at this stage of his development.
The grind portion of the schedule continues with a home game against Pittsburgh at the Pavilion on Wednesday night. Pittsburgh has been erratic this season and one would surmise that Villanova is due to have an improved shooting performance.