In the opening round of the 2012 Big East Tournament, the Villanova Wildcats turned around a 4-point halftime deficit and absolutely manhandled the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, blowing the doors off the place in a 70-49 romp.
Villanova started out the game like they did last time out against Cincinnati. A balanced attack and strong defense kept them in front of Rutgers for most of the half. But Rutgers, particularly Eli Carter, caught fire from deep and their 7-11 first half mark from beyond the arc spurned an 15-2 run to close the half and put Rutgers ahead at the break.
After that though, it was one-way traffic. More after The Jump.
We joked in the gamethread that Jay Wright was going to sing his halftime lullaby to the players, but it was the quite the opposite. 'Nova came busting out of the gates and immediately went on a 6-0 run to retake the lead, and they never looked back. Maalik Wayns was spectacular, Mouphtaou Yarou was a beast, and team-defense that would make any coach proud spurred 'Nova on to a great first-round victory and a spot against South Florida tomorrow night.
So much to say, and so many people to praise, so we're going to do this bullet-point style (we'll have a C/F post up tomorrow to celebrate the best half of basketball I've seen us play in quite some time).
- Maalik Wayns finished with 28 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and was 13-14 from the FT line. He has the look of a guy who's going to carry his team no matter the cost.
- Mouphtaou Yarou finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds and completely eliminated any threat Rutgers had up front with his glass-cleaning skills and a couple of monstrous blocks.
- Ty Johnson didn't put up much of a stat line (7 points, 4 rebounds) but he ran the offense very well and didn't look like a freshman blinded by the bright lights at all. It allowed Wayns to stay fresh for sure.
- Maurice Sutton similarly didn't put up much of a line (6 points, 2 rebounds) but he seemed to do just about everything right.
- James Bell and Dominic Cheek's adjustment and tight perimeter defense completely eliminated Rutgers outside threat. They were tireless in their effort and were a major reason why Rutgers scored just 15 points in the 2nd half.
- Last but not least - our beleaguered coach, Jay Wright. What a halftime speech that must of been. I applaud you sir. Whatever you did, bottle that shit up, and serve it again tomorrow.
Villanova is back in action tomorrow night in the 2nd round of the Big East Tournament against the South Florida Bulls. The game is scheduled to begin at 9 pm ET.
Thoughts on the win everyone?