Villanova stayed perfect in Big East play, overcoming a one-point halftime deficit and getting 20 points from Kris Jenkins to beat Marquette 83-68.
"Good hard fought win. The Big East is the Big East. Every game is a physical, grind it out game."
Villanova started off hot against the Marquette, taking a 21-7 lead with Henry Ellenson staying quiet in the paint and the Golden Eagles turning the ball over on multiple possessions. The Wildcats show 7-13 from the field and 5-7 from beyond the arc.
That lead soon vanished as Marquette went on an 18-3 run towards the end of the first half. During that stretch the Wildcats shot 2-11, this coming after they made 10-21 to start the night. Marquette went 10-12 and was able to take a one point lead into the half thanks to a buzzer beating layup by Ellenson, who lead his team with 10 points at the break.
"I thought when we had the 23-7 lead, we relaxed just a little bit.," Wright said on the late surge by the Golden Eagles. "A couple lackadaisical shots, couple missed assignments defensively. Then they got on a run, and it's hard to get that back. We were lucky to recover from that. If we're on the road, maybe we don't recover from that."
Villanova shot 38.7% from the field (43.8 from three) while the Golden Eagles shot a scorching 61.5%. Nevertheless, Kris Jenkins lead all scoring with 13 points (12 from threes). Daniel Ochefu was held scoreless but had 7 rebounds. The Cats kept it close because of Marquette's turnovers; they coughed it up 8 times which lead to 10 Wildcat points.
On tonight's successful shooting performance, Jenkins credits his teammates: "My teammates do a good job of creating offensive. During that stretch [when Villanova went up 16] the play was to score, for me to score."
`Nova started the second half with similar poor shooting, going two for their first six. Ochefu scored his first points with an emphatic dunk to break an 0-6 start for him. Marquette went on their own cold streak, going 2-8. While the `Cats got back-to-back old fashioned three pointers by Jenkins and Mikal Bridges. This put the Wildcats up 60-51 with 9:30 remaining.
On the next Marquette possession, Luke Fischer threw the ball over Duane Wilson's head and that lead to a Ryan Arcidiacono breakaway layup and a timeout called by Coach Wojo. At this point, Marquette hadn't scored for the last 2:30, and that drought would last 5:50. In the nearly 6-minute span, Villanova went on a 13-0 run to push their lead to 68-52.
Villanova only attempted 5 threes in the second half, but that was the gameplan. "We wanted to go more inside to Daniel and Kris, and it's not just for them to score. They can make plays and they can get to the foul line."
Marquette later went on their own 10-0 run to cut `Nova's lead to 70-61, but it was too little too late.
Daniel Ochefu was seen hobbling during the second half, and sat out for a little bit. After the game, Wright was not sure what the specific injury was yet. "I think on that play where he went up for a jump ball, he fell on his tailbone. That's my guess." There may be a specific injury report tomorrow, however Ochefu played after that incident occurred so it may not be serious.
Jalen Brunson finished with the game with 14 points on 3-6 shooting (2-4 from three) and 6-8 on free throws. Wright raved about Brunson growth this season. "I am thrilled with Jalen. He has a lot of pressure on him and he's handled it great. I think he is developing into one of the great Villanova guards. He reminds me of Arch because when he came here, he was groomed as a Villanova guard; he had the mentality to play hard, be coachable, be a good student. He can get so much better, and I know he can work at it."
Villanova improves to 15-2 (5-0) on the season while Marquette falls to 12-5 (2-3).
Villanova's next game is Saturday at 1:00pm when they travel to DC to take on Georgetown. The game will air on CBS.