In the inaugural Gavitt Tipoff Games, the Villanova Wildcats defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 87-63.
"Good start for us. They're a tough, scrappy team and when we're hitting our shots, they don't look good, but the way they came at us in the first half is good experience for us" Wright said after the game. "Our guys know that even when you're supposed to beat a team, anyone can beat you. That team is definitely good to beat us. It stars with Daniel and Arch, they've been through a lot and have been beaten. We want them to be better leaders, and they're doing that."
Villanova got off to a quick start against the Cornhuskers with a 7-0 lead in the first two and a half minutes. However, a cold spell by the `Cats and hot shooting by Nebraska let Nebraska tie the game up at 14. By the second TV timeout, Nebraska was shooting 40% from beyond the arc while `Nova was only converting on 12.5%.
A 7-0 run gave Nebraska a 23-16 lead with eight minutes left in the half, which would be their largest lead of the game. The threes still were not falling for Villanova, and the sloppiness of both sides ensued.
On staying composed in a defecit, Ochefu says "that attests to our coaching." He added: "Me and Arch have seen it all four years here. We've been in some comeback games. We've been in it and it helps us stay on course."
Back to back threes by Ryan Arcidiacono and Josh Hart would soon dissolve that lead as the Wildcats erupted on a 22-2 run to close the half. Threes were an issue for the Wildcat as they made only 4-17 (24%) in the first half, but they still managed to shoot 42% overall.
"When they took the lead, I think there were a couple good plays by Mikal Bridges and Arch, getting steals and deflections. We just weren't making shots, and [Nebraska] is a good defensive team. We got some easy buckets and all of a sudden the threes started going."
"Seven minutes, stuck on 23 points. You're not going to beat a team like Villanova," Coach Tim Miles said. "That timeout with seven and a half minutes was really important for them. We never got our rhythm back after that stretch."
The Wildcats made the most of Nebraska's 13 turnovers, converting them into 16 points. Daniel Ochefu lead the scoring at the half with 11 points, and Andrew White III lead the Cornhuskers with 8.
Nebraska's mistakes carried over into the second half, turning the ball over on their first possession. The Cats used Arch jumpshots and Ochefu putbacks to maintain distance from the Cornhuskers. Phil Booth's dunk in transition gave `Nova a 53-35 lead, which was immediately followed by a Nebraska timeout. That would prove to be the dagger.
Back to back threes by Jenkins put the lead at 81-51, their largest lead of the game, with 4:23 to play. Soon after, Henry Lowe, Patrick Farrell and Kevin Rafferty entered the game.
Josh Hart lead all scoring with 19 points and Ochefu added a double-double with 17 and 10. White III finished with 18 points on 6-11 shooting. Jalen Brunson dished out 6 assists.
"When you're down nineteen points on the road for a young team, you see them stop competing" Miles added. "Villanova's gonna turn you over, that's their plan. But we self destructed."
Nebraska finished with 22 turnovers, with the `Cats scoring 33 points off them. That proved to be the difference maker.
After starting the game 4-17 from three, the Wildcats shot 5-13 in the second half and shot 49% throughout the game. The Wildcats got into the bonus with over twelve minutes to go in the game. They improved in free throws too, hitting 10-12 in that second half where they outscored Nebraska 49-38.