From a slightly different perspective, despite a lackluster first half, Villanova”s second half demonstrated they do have a team talented and disciplined enough to take the conference again. Georgetown showed tremendous potential in the first half but was likely overachieving with that 18-point lead. Battling back by Villanova, as much that can be said about Georgetown’s miserable perimeter defense, Jay Wright’s free-shooting philosophy proved as reliable as ever. They shot themselves out of that first-half slump.
Still, after a painful review of the game tape, it was Villanova’s stifling second half defense is what distinguished them as the ranked team on the floor. The Wildcats fronted Qudus Wahab and denied east passes to not shooters Jahvon Blair and Donald Carey. The Hoyas shot well when they had daylight, but lost their rhythm when they had a hand in their face or were bumped off their spot.
Time will tell this season which half of basketball will be the hallmark of the Hoyas. Not to give Villanova any more undeserved credit, but maybe seeing some of the toughest defense and best shooting of the conference this early will help this group in Blue and Gray look more like the first half Hoyas in the near future.
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Pickett carried the load early, scoring 10 points as the Hoyas jumped out to a 17-7 lead. A 16-3 run spearheaded by six quick points from freshman Dante Harris, a career high in just a half, put Georgetown up 35-19. The Wildcats also didn’t have an answer for Wahab as he posted all of his points in the first half.
“We had good looks in the first half, just didn’t make them,” Villanova Coach Jay Wright said. “Defensively we were a step behind everything they did. Offensively, they were just a step ahead of us. They were a little bit more prepared for us, and maybe we’re a little bit more predictable. We did not execute what we wanted to do defensively, and they really sliced us in the first half.”
Latest Kente Korner is up! @NationWideNolan and @FLHoya joined in for the Hoyas - Villanova post game wrap up.— Bobby Bancroft (@BobbyBancroft) December 12, 2020
It was certainly One Half to Remember, Another to Forget for the Hoyas as they dropped their Big East Opener
Listen today @CasualHoya https://t.co/Cniaspqb9l
Partly that was due to Wahab not able to find any momentum down low in the second half. All 12 of his points, as the second-leading scorer for the Hoyas, came in the opening frame. None of the Wildcats, initially, could slow him down one-on-one. Villanova head coach Jay Wright rotated out different players to see if he could be stymied. Eventually, Villanova settled on fronting him. Pair that with some missed shots and the offense went away from him completely.
“We have to be able to do both. We have to take our threes and make our threes. We have guys that can do it. But we also have to get inside,” Ewing said. “I thought, for the most part, we got the ball inside to [Wahab]. He was able to get some good shots, some of them he made, some of them we missed. And we got for the most part, especially in the first half we got good, some good threes.”
Hey, @SKaneNBCS ...— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) December 12, 2020
1H: Villanova 7-for-22 [32%], Georgetown 6-for-12 [50%]
2H: Villanova 8-for-17 [47%], Georgetown 1-for-11 [9%]
Nova closed game on 49-17 run.
Wildcats got back to their core values.
Coming out of the break, the Villanova offense ran a methodical set leading to a three from junior guard Caleb Daniels, narrowing the game to 9-7. The Hoyas responded with an 8-0 run off a Wahab layup and two Pickett threes. From there, Georgetown built an even larger lead, opening an eighteen point gap with 4:45 remaining. Part of the offensive show was a breakout performance from freshman guard Dante Harris, who scored 6 first half points on perfect shooting.
Wahab’s dominance inside was also crucial to the early Georgetown success, with a 12 point first half and a team advantage on the boards. Head coach Patrick Ewing’s team also ran a very efficient first half, not recording a single turnover for the first thirteen minutes. Speaking after the game, Ewing praised Harris’s first half effort. “I thought he did a great job in the first half, not as good in the second half. He’s going to be a key part of our team. He believes in himself, I believe in him.”
With 2:29 left in the first half, Georgetown led Villanova 46-28. Villanova won 76-63. At no point during the game did I truly, honestly expect any other outcome.— Eamonn Brennan (@eamonnbrennan) December 12, 2020
Gillespie connected on back-to-back treys and Daniels converted a driving layup as Villanova got within 50-43 with 16:13 left. Soon after Pickett misfired on a 3-point attempt from the baseline, Swider responded with a trey for the Wildcats, and the deficit was 50-47. Georgetown committed a pair of turnovers and Villanova came back with 3-pointers by Gillespie and Daniels to go back ahead 53-50, capping a 15-0 run. The Hoyas, who started hot from beyond the arc early, missed their first three 3-point attempts of the second half.
Second half stats brought you by Waste Management and other garbage transport businesses. pic.twitter.com/dBVHZjHc8B— Philadelphia Hoyas (@PhillyHoyas) December 12, 2020
After playing extremely and unusually competent basketball en route to building a double-digit first-half lead over the ninth-ranked Wildcats, the Hoyas ultimately lost the key turnover battle in the second half. One key to playing a team as efficient and disciplined as Villanova (4th in offensive efficiency) was to force them to play significantly faster than they are used to and to use Georgetown’s god-given size advantage down low.
The Hoyas seemed to stray away from the paint late in the game for some reason, as Qudus did not log a single point throughout the duration of the second half. Ewing explained his frustration with that fact postgame: “We have to be able to do both, take our threes and make our threes. We have guys that can do it. We also have to get the ball inside.”
Villanova (-12) ends the game on a 16-2 run to cover against Georgetown pic.twitter.com/MZgRsGxzkx— Bet The Hoops (@betthehoops) December 12, 2020
The interesting thing about Villanova, the opponent is not always the key factor. It’s a cliche when coaches say, ‘It’s all about us.’ But that’s often the case with this group, even historically. This season, we’ve seen the good and the bad already. You saw both Friday actually. When Villanova beat Boston College in the season opener, you might have thought BC was Final Four ready the way the Wildcats struggled to get going. In fact, after beating Rhode Island, BC lost three straight.
Virginia Tech, the team that did beat Villanova, also just lost to Penn State by 20. Some of that variance is just early-season basketball. But a lot of it is just whether Villanova gets into a rhythm. Against Georgetown, the Wildcats had a season-low seven turnovers – the low side of normal, with eight in three others, nine in another, 11 the season high.