I'm not going to blame the referees.
The last time these two teams met, Ethan Wragge hit a few threes to start the game, and it never was close from there. Tonight, Wragge did not make a field goal in the first half.
It was all Doug McDermott. He had 22 points at the half on 8-11 shooting, and finished with 39 points on 7 rebounds. The Bluejays would cruise to a 101-80 win over the Wildcats. They used solid offense- 64.2% FG%- as well as some luck on their side with some acrobatic shots. Villanova never led in the contest, disregarding a 2-0 start.
The first half was full of ups and downs for the Wildcats. McDermott scored the first 11 points for the Jays, which we could not view because of the Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers foul fest. At the first TV timeout, Villanova had 2 turnovers and only 4 shots, going into the huddle down 5. James Bell would hit one of his five 3's on the night to pull the 'Cats within 2, however Grant Gibbs would get the layup and draw the foul on Tony Chennault who came in late on the switch.
Pinkston did well defensively out of the timeout. He forced a turnover on McDermott, and the Wildcats could have pulled within one possession. However, James Bell committed an offensive foul. He had 2 offensive fouls on the day, and exited on a questionable flagrant 1 foul on Isaiah Zierden with 6:11. Bell overall had poor defense within the paint allowing guards to easily drive to the hoop.
Villanova resorted to the 3-ball for much of the first half in order to play catch up, and it worked only some of the time. Though Bell hit 2 straight to end the first half. On Nova's final possession of half number 1, Ryan Arcidiacono led a pass to Dylan Ennis who was unable to get the ball back to Arch for a final shot. Ennis was unable to convert on the easy layup chance and Nova entered the second half down 50-37.
Pinkston had a first half to forget. He missed his only shot attempt and had a 0/2/2 stat slash, along with 2 turnovers.He wouldn't score until the 15:05 mark of the second half when he converted on 2 free throws. From halftime on, JayVaughn got more assertive, scoring 5 straight points for the Wildcats and getting his own rebound for a kick out to Ennis for the next 3. He would end the day with 15 points on 9-9 from the charity stripe, and 5 rebounds.
The second half started more promising for the 'Cats. Daniel Ochefu started off the half with an easy bucket, and going into a Creighton timeout the Wildcats held their own. However, the events out of the timeout turned to be the nail in the coffin. Villanova would turn the ball over on their next possession, then a Chef foul away from the ball gave Grant Gibbs the opportunity to knock down a 3. After a Kris Jenkins missed 3-attempt, a Hail Mary from Gibbs to McDermott led to a transition dunk and extended the lead to 18. From there, it never got better.
Villanova's big issue this evening was fouls. In all, 26 were committed. Were they cheap? Fans say so, but I'm not going to blame the referees. To add insult to injury, many of these fouls were comimtted away from the ball. As mentioned, Bell fouled out with 6 minutes to go, and Pinkston and Ochefu finished with 4.
Pinkston's second half was much greater. Not only did all his offense come then, but he drew a couple of fouls right from the whistle of half number 2, specifically on Wragge. His efforts, along with Darrun Hilliard's, got the Wildcat's in the bonus within 9 minutes. As a team, the Wildcats took full advantage of the foul shots- they hit 17 of 18 in the second half- however it was too late to make a real run. Especially when the opponent is hitting over 60% of their shots.
Towards the end of the contest, frustration got the best of the 'Cats as Tony Chennault had a sloppy foul on McDermott on an Ethan Wragge three ball that went in. Not much was done at that point, as the Doug free throws put the lead at 25 with under 8 to play.
Doug McDermott ended a great win with a historic day. He crossed the 30-point threshold before the 10 minute mark and passed Larry Bird on the all-time scoring list.
Looking at solely the statistics, Villanova was not truly outplayed. The Bluejays shot 64.2% compared to the Wildcats' 46.0%, and the 3P% was 50% to 60% respectively. The big differential came in assists, with Creighton winning that battle 18-11. Assists will rack up when you make over 60% of your shots, and when you are the 2nd assists/game team in the nation.
This was not the highest scoring game for the 'Jays. In the first game of the season, they put up 107 on Alcorn State Braves.
Villanova's next game is the final one on this roadtrip, traveling to Rhode Island to take on the Providence Friars. Providence has been a tough place for tough teams, with Creighton and a once-great Xavier Musketeers squad both falling there. However, Seton Hall got a win in Providence so we'll see if luck is on the Wildcats' side. The game is at 7:00pm on Fox Sports 1.
Creighton regains sole possession of the Big East.