It was another game that the Villanova Wildcats' long distance shooting escaped them for most of the afternoon, but this time the proper adjustments were made as they dispatched the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 69-52 to win the NIT Season Tip-off and push their record to 6-0 on the young season.
Villanova led for most of the first half (albeit with the teams trading buckets early), using a late 11-0 run to take 30-23 lead in to the locker room. Jalen Brunson (13 points, 2 assists) and Ryan Arcidiacono (9 points, 2 assists) both had a strong first 20 minutes, but the team as a whole struggled again with the outside shot with Kris Jenkins (12 points, but 3-10 from deep) in particular missing several open looks.
Georgia Tech opened the second half and carried over a late run from the end of the first that briefly tied the game. They consistently attacked the rim and the glass, trying to take impose their height advantage on the 'Cats. While Charles Mitchell had some sustained success taking advantage of mismatches, Villanova responded in kind by pounding it inside to Daniel Ochefu and Darryl Reynolds, and by having their guards drive to the rim to score and extend their lead.
It was a welcome adjustment by Jay Wright and his team to find easier buckets with the long ball not falling, and was definitely a major factor in Villanova pulling away from the Yellow Jackets in the second half. And with Arcidiacono in foul trouble for much of the half, it was very encouraging to see Brunson (who won MVP), Phil Booth (7 points, 2 assists) and Josh Hart (13 points, 7 rebounds) put a stranglehold on the game.
As has become the norm in the early going, Villanova's defense was at the top of its game again. They forced the Yellow Jackets in to 13 turnovers and held a very good offensive attack to just 52 points on 36% shooting. Leading scorer Marcus Georges-Hunt struggled all day with the multiple defenders he saw, finishing just 2-8 from the field for 6 points.
Villanova is back in action on Tuesday when they head to tiny Hagan Arena for The Holy War against the Saint Joseph's (PA) Hawks. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00pm ET and the game will be aired on CBS Sports Network.