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Villanova easily bests Penn 77-57 ahead of massive date with Xavier

The victory extends Villanova's Big-5 winning streak. Although happy to walk away with the victory, the 'Cats must be thinking that their play will have to be better against a much tougher opponent on New Year's Eve.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Villanova Wildcats started off hot, jumping off to a commanding 14-0 lead by the first media timeout. Despite cooling off considerably, the lead proved more than enough to hold off the Pennsylvania Quakers, with the end result being a 77-57 victory. Daniel Ochefu was particularly impressive, especially early on, as he had 9 points on 4-4 shooting including two face-up jump shots from about 17 feet (seriously!) by the first media timeout. He finished the game with 12 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block, in fairly limited play time, especially in the second half. Along with Ochefu, Jalen Brunson (22), Ryan Arcidiacono (13), and Josh Hart (12) all finished in double figures for the Wildcats. Much of Brunson's points came in the second half, especially on the foul line, as he finished 9-10 from the charity stripe.

The Quakers had more turnovers than points for a large majority of the first half. They finished the half with 9 turnovers, 11 points, while shooting an abysmal 17.2% from the floor, including 1-16 (6.3%) from behind the 3-point line. Surprsingly, the Wildcats were able to go into the half with a 39-11 lead despite shooting 0-6 from 3 and 7-15 (46.7%) from the foul line. However, they did still shot 16-31 (51.6%) from the field and out-rebounded the Quakers 26-12 in the first half.

The second half brought much of the same. Although the Quakers shot the ball a bit better and managed to outscore the Wildcats in the second half; they could not mount anything of significance to ever threaten the Wildcat's large lead. The Wildcats' poor foul shooting throughout the game (they finished just 26-41, 63.4%), and comparatively flat play in the second half may be a bit concerning though. Although, as Jay Wright noted, the 'Cats used the second half to work on their zone defense because "there is no better way to practice than a real game situation". This was also his reasoning for playing Kris Jenkins in the second half, recognizing that he is worried Jenkins won't be 100% for the Xavier game.

Most of the thoughts in the stands in the second half were more concerned with when the Bench Mob would get their minutes, and looking forward to the match-up with the Xavier Musketeers on New Year's Eve at noon. The game will be played in the Pavilion, which could prove to be a major factor squaring off against a top-10 conference foe.