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Advanced Stats: Villanova Basketball Four Factors vs. East Tennessee State

The Wildcats won easily by over 30 points, but there is still room for improvement.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Despite another slow start, Villanova went on a 25-0 run mid way through the first half and easily won their 3rd game of the season against an over matched East Tennessee State team.  Holding the Buccaneers scoreless for over seven minutes is a great accomplishment, considering the team had been averaging 105 PPG in their previous two contests.  But despite the lop-sided victory, the Four Factors show that this Villanova team isn't without weaknesses (although they have some GREAT strengths).  For the second straight game, the Cats only won 3 of the 4 categories.

Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)

Offense: Game - 61.9%, Year Avg - 57.2%, Last Year Avg - 55.3%

The three point shooting finally came together for the Wildcats, and it shows in their eFG%.  Leading the way was Ryan Arcidiacono (4-5 FG, 3-3 3FG) who had an eFG% of 110%.  Josh Hart was also perfect from behind the arc (2-2 3FG) and finished with an eFG% of 80%.  Whether they're hitting or not, Nova will continue to take 3's when they're available.  The national average of the Top 100 eFG%'s is 56.5%, so even when the 3's aren't falling, the Cats would still beat team.  But when Villanova does start connecting from deep, they'll be VERY hard to stop.

Defense: Game - 35.6%, Year Avg - 37.2%, Last Year Avg - 45.5%

Friday was a supremely impressive effort by the Wildcats as they shut down the best offense they had faced to date.  The Buccaneers entered the game averaging 105 PPG, but were held to less than half that amount by a swarming pressure defense.  A big part of this was turnovers, which we'll get to later, but another contributing factor was perimeter defending.  The Bucs were held to 18.2% shooting from behind the arc, the lowest of any Nova opponent this season.  With Daniel Ochefu and Darryl Reynolds defending the paint, the guards are free to be more aggressive in their perimeter defense.  While we still haven't seen the team in action against a top quality team, Jay Wright's defensive scheme has made up for the loss of shut down perimeter defenders Dylan Ennis and Darrun Hilliard.

Turn Over Percentage (TO%)

Offense: Game - 20.9%, Year Avg - 15.7%, Last Year Avg - 16.3%

Jay admitted in his press conference after the game that this one got sloppy late, but he still thought overall the team did a good job protecting the ball.  The numbers back this up.  There won't be many times this season when Henry Lowe or Kevin Rafferty will be asked to handle the ball, and many of the turnovers came late as some of the younger players were getting solid minutes to learn in a live-game environment.  The biggest observation from this stat is that our two top ball handlers, Arcidiacono and Jalen Brunson, combined for 0 turnovers for the second time this season.  Can't ask for much better than that!  The only player to keep an eye on in this category is Darryl Reynolds, who had a TO% of 82%.  Reynolds has had trouble holding onto the ball when he's under the basket and can't go up for the shot immediately.  We'll look for the coaching staff to work with him on improving this before Big East play begins.

Defense: Game - 25.4%, Year Avg - 24.1%, Last Year Avg - 21.6%

This game was the perfect example of how defense leads to offense.  In the first half, Villanova scored 25 points off turnovers.  They also went on a 25-0 run in the first.  Coincidence?  Yes.  But still, they're both great stats that show how Villanova's pressure defense is causing problems for the opposition.  ETSU did a much better job protecting the ball in the second half once the Villanova starters came out, but the damage was already done.

Offensive Rebound Percentage (OR%)

Offense: Game - 46.9%, Year Avg - 36.4%, Last Year Avg - 32.5%

We may need to rename this the Daniel Ochefu category.  Chef was a beast again, pulling down 7 offensive rebounds and a total of 16 boards for the game.  He's currently averaging a OR% of 26, the 4th best rating in the country.  Donte DiVincenzo had another strong showing, pulling down 3 of his own offensive rebounds for an OR% of 22.6%, good for 2nd on the team.  In total, six different Wildcats had offensive rebounds as this team continues to attack the glass on both ends of the court.

Defense: Game - 34.1%, Year Avg - 31.1%, Last Year Avg - 31.2%

In the post game press conference, Kris Jenkins and Daniel Ochefu both stressed how important rebounding would be to the success of this team.  While the Wildcats did out rebound ETSU 44-32, they still allowed 15 offensive rebounds, 9 of which came in the first half.  This is the second straight game that Villanova has allowed 15+ offensive rebounds, and Jay will make it a point to work on improving this stat before his team faces an opponent that will really make them pay for giving up second chances.

Free Throw Rate (FTRate)

Offense: Game - 12.7%, Year Avg - 29.2%, Last Year Avg - 41.8%

Getting to the line has been difficult for the Wildcats all season, and this game was the worst yet.  In the only Four Factors category that ETSU won, Villanova is now ranked 288th nationally on the season.  Darryl Reynolds and Mikal Bridges continues to be the most consistent in this category, averaging over 60% each.  Brunson was also aggressively attacking the paint in Friday's game, he just wasn't getting foul calls.  The Cats are finding other ways to win without trips to the charity stripe, but with a FT% of 71.9%, it would be nice to get there more often.  We'll have to hope that this number starts going in the other direction, because the significant drop from last year's production is unsettling.

Defense: Game - 15.3%, Year Avg - 24%, Last Year Avg - 30.4%

While the Cats are having trouble getting to the line, they're doing a great job keeping opponents off it too.  A big factor has been their ability to stay out of significant team foul trouble.  While Arch and Josh Hart saw limited minutes due to foul trouble, the team only committed 17 fouls for the game.  More importantly, Ochefu had no fouls, which will be a key factor to the Wildcats success.  If Chef would have to miss any significant game time due to foul trouble, it would have a significant impact on both ends of the court.

Looking Forward: Akron Zips

The Akron Zips will be a good test for Villanova, though the Four Factors heavily favor the Wildcats.  Rebounding will easily be the key to who wins this game.  On offense, Villanova should continue to dominate the offensive glass, leading to second chance points.  Akron also puts a lot of opponents on the line, ranking 237th nationally in FTRate.  If the Cats have an opportunity to take advantage of the charity stripe, this is it.  On defense, the Wildcats will be able to take advantage of Akrons poor TO% and continue forcing turnovers.  An area to watch for though is Akron's Offensive Rebounding, a category they excel in.  Villanova will host Akron Sunday afternoon at the Pavilion.