Game ended approximately 9:36 PM eastern time. Villanova Wildcats defeat Delaware Blue Hens 78-59. Some notes on the game are below.
-In Villanova's first game of the season at the Wells Fargo Center, the Cats jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, but neither team could really find their stroke in the early going.
-The Cats stretched the lead to 9 at one point, although the Blue Hens seemed unfazed, quickly cutting the deficit to 1 with nine minutes to play in the first half.
-A welcome surprise for Nova emerged on the offensive end towards the end of the opening stanza, as the freshman James Bell notched 10 points in a spurt that gave the good guys a little breathing room heading into the locker room. For a team that certainly needs some depth after the suspension of JayVaughn Pinkston, it was nice to see Bell drain a couple of threes and have the confidence to drive to the hoop with confidence.
-Halftime score: Villanova 34 Delaware 24
More after the jump...
-As the Nova faithful waited for the Wildcats to put UDel away, the feisty Blue Hens sliced the 10 point deficit in half, as they trailed 39-34 with about fifteeen 15 minutes remaining.
-Sensing the anticipation in the arena, Villanova went on a 14-0 run, aided by a couple of timely buckets from Corey Fisher and a technical foul on a Delaware player.
-Good teams put away inferior opponents, but Villanova let Delaware right back in the game due to sloppy turnovers and a stupid technical foul on Mouphtaou Yarou. One of the Delaware guards got fouled on a drive to the basket, and while he was getting up, Yarou stepped over him for some reason and lighlty kneed him in the face. I don't think it was intentional, but I can see why the refs T'd him up. Jay Wright gave Mouph an earful, and he didn't see the court rest of the game. The incident seemed to inspire the visitors, as they notched 4 points from that incident, and after a few more Villanova turnovers, it was 54-46 with eight minutes to go.
-With the game still in the balance, Corey Fisher had some dazzling drives late and the Cats made their free throws to put the nail in the coffin.
-In terms of stats, Corey Fisher finally broke through after his recent prolonged shooting slump. He shot 7-13 from the field, notching 21 points with 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, and 5 turnovers. Maalik Wayns also had an efficient with 14 points on 4-8 shooting, but the other notable mention needs to be James Bell. In seventeen minutes of action off the bench, Bell put up 10 points and grabbed 5 boards. If he can give these types of performances, Villanova has a much better shot to be a top team in the country and the conference. For Delaware, big man Jamelle Hagins deserves a lot of credit, as he had 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 thunderous blocks (mostly on Dominic Cheek).
-General observations: 1) The arena was dead most of the night, which I guess isn't surprising considering the opponent, but you'd like to see some more energy from the fans. The announced attendance was 12,055, but it felt like half of that. 2) 17 total turnovers for Villanova is alarming against a weaker team. Most of these were unforced as well, so taking care of the ball needs to be a point of emphasis as conference play approaches. 3) I'm glad Jay benched Mouph after the technical. When I was watching Jay ream out Yarou, it really looked like he's just had enough of all the BS surrounding this team (i.e. Pinkston suspension, Fisher "disagreement" in practice, etc.). The distractions hurt them down the stretch last year, and they will definitely hinder any sort of run the Cats hope to make this year. 4) Awesome to see Fish get back on track with his shooting. Hopefully, he can build on this stellar showing, and keep it going for the rest of the season.