Halftime was a manageable four-point deficit for the Villanova Wildcats, but their inconsistent attack and a losing effort on the defensive glass after the break allowed Virginia to pull away by the middle of the second half. That forced Villanova to fight back in the final seven minutes, getting to within a possession at the four-and-a-half minute mark; largely behind some hot shooting from Kris Jenkins, who scored the bulk of his 23 points in the second half, and brought the 'Cats within one possession. The Cavaliers heated up from deep themselves, however, eventually pulling away again, and despite Nova's best efforts, logged the win, 86-75 on their home court.
The Wildcats were thoroughly beaten on the boards,19-32, and watched as Virginia connected on over 66% of their shots from deep. Villanova came into the game allowing 57.6 points per game -- good for seventh in the country, but the hot-shooting Wahoos scored 53 points in the second half.
It was a tight affair in the first half, with the Wildcats connecting on 57% from the field and 4-of-10 shots from deep to keep up with the Cavs. Shooting in the second-half suffered for long stretches, however, and the 'Cats ended the game making less than 50% of their field goal attempts, and 10-of-26 (38.5%) from deep.
Jenkins had just four points in the first half, making one attempt from deep of five and a field goal, but found a groove in the second half to finish with 23 points, including five three-pointers -- and sharing the team lead for offensive rebounding with three.
Though he fouled out of the game late, Daniel Ochefu was also key for the Wildcats. He led the team overall with five rebounds, and scored 13 points (eight in the first half). When he came off of the floor, UVa was far more effective offensively, with little competition for second-chances off the carom. Josh Hart added 12 points and 3 rebounds for the Wildcats -- the only other player to reach double-digits.
While UVA was not nearly as in-love with the 3-point shot as their opponent, they benefitted from it greatly. Guards Malcolm Brogdon (2-3), London Perrantes (3-4), and Darrius Thompson (2-2), all took advantage of their open looks in the second half.
Brogdon and forward Anthony Gill led the way on the boards, grabbing seven each for the Cavs. They grabbed 19 defensive rebounds to Villanova's 9 offensive boards.
When Villanova needed to resort to fouling in the final minute, UVA responded to the challenge -- they connected on 86.7% from the line overall. Brogdon in particular helped to slam the door shut on the Wildcats, hitting 12-of-12 from the charity stripe.
After losing to Oklahoma in Pearl Harbor earlier this month, Villanova has now lost both of it's games against ranked opponents -- both of whom have been in the top-10 nationally. They will return home for games against Delaware on Tuesday and Penn on December 28th before what will likely be another chance against a Top-10 opponent in Xavier on New Years Eve.
Fans have clamored for a tougher non-conference schedule, and it will be difficult to argue that the Wildcats have been challenged early this season.