Although both the Villanova Wildcats and Butler Bulldogs have been heralded for their offensive efficiency during this season, with both teams scoring significantly more than 75 points per game, it was the defense of both teams that stole the show in this match-up. Both teams were extremely gritty and tough on both ends of the floor, which was a major reason for the low final score of 60-55 in favor of the Wildcats.
The loss relegated Butler to a 1-3 record in Big East games so far. The 18th-ranked team nationally is now 12-4 overall on the season. Villanova has now moved to 6-0 all-time in the series.
Butler's Roosevelt Jones was listed as questionable all week, suffering from a bone bruise and sprain in his left wrist. Despite that injury, the Forward started for the Bulldogs, scoring 22 points, 5 rebounds and 1 steal in the contest.
Josh Hart was spectacular once again and is really starting to look like a superstar, finishing with 22 points and 11 rebounds. He also did a fantastic job of limiting Butler sharpshooter Kellen Dunham to just 13 points on 4-9 shooting, and he really took Dunham out of the game in the second half. Butler's 55-points were the lowest score they've achieved in a game so far this season -- entering the game as the eighth-highest scoring team in the NCAA, averaging 86.5 points per game.
The game was highly contested and exciting from the opening tip (unless you like offense, then it was boring). Both teams shot uncharacteristically poor (with Villanova shooting 33% and Butler at 34% from the field) resulting in a score of 27-21 in favor of Butler at the break. The 21 points in the first half for 'Nova was their lowest first half total of the season.
A major factor in the 'Cats troubles was Ryan Arcidiacono being limited to 1-8 shooting in the first half, due in large part to coach Chris Holtmann's decision to have Roosevelt Jones guard him. Despite a poor shooting night early on, Arcidiacono still stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals.
The offensive glass was another big advantage for the Bulldogs in the.first half, as the Wildcats really struggled to keep them off the backboard at times. By the end of the game, however, Nova had matched Butler on the offensive boards, and ultimately out-rebounded the Bulldogs 39-30 at game's end.
The Wildcats shot the ball much better in the second half and really showed how balanced and deep they are as a team. With both Jalen Brunson and Daniel Ochefu struggling with foul trouble, Mikal Bridges and Phil Booth made huge contributions of the bench, especially during the 'Cats 12-0 run to take the lead early in the second half. The Wildcats were able to maintain a narrow lead for the rest of the game from that point onward.
The Wildcats return to action on Wednesday night when they take on the Marquette Golden Eagles at 8:30 EST in the Pavilion.