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Wildcats struggle, but are able to Weather the Red Storm in the Garden, 68-53

It certainly wasn't pretty, but the 'Cats took care of business and walk away with a conference victory away from the Main Line.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Villanova Wildcats were able to defeat the St.. John's Red Storm with a final score of 68-53. However, the game felt much closer for most of the game than the score indicates, largely due to the Wildcats relatively poor play. The game started slowly with both teams struggling to make shots and being a bit sloppy with the ball, and it almost had the feel of a sloppy pickup game. Villanova really missed the presence of Daniel Ochefu on both ends of the floor, as they couldn't really work inside-out for open looks through the post, and only found them from offensive rebounds. They also really struggled to finish in the paint and around the rim. While the 'Cats played pretty good team defense overall, there were many times that the Red Storm likely wouldn't have scored on certain possessions if Ochefu was in the game.

After a week off from game time, the Villanova Wildcats really looked like they needed to shake some rust off early.It took the Wildcats over 6 and a half minutes to make their first field goal. While the game was physical and both teams beat each other up, the Wildcats made some very uncharacteristically careless mistakes at times (Josh Hart losing the ball by dribbling it off of Daryl Reynolds' foot while trying to lead a fastbreak comes to mind). Overall, they had 11 turnovers in the first half alone. Throughout much of the first half, they were able to get good shots especially from the outside, but were not able to connect on their attempts, shooting only 24% from the floor. Perhaps the most telling stat of the first half though was that Ryan Arcidiacono, Josh Hart, and Jalen Brunson had only 8 points combined in the first half. Still, the Wildcats went to the locker room with a 28-27 lead at half.

Fortunately, Villanova was able to open things up a bit in the second half, hitting more of their open shots and creating more opportunities for easy baskets from their defense. Kris Jenkins was really effective all game, recording his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while shooting 4-10 from 3.

While it's certainly encouraging to see the Wildcats rebound after the tough loss to the Providence Friars last week with a victory at the Garden even without Ochefu, Villanova also must know that they may not have been so lucky to win the game if they were playing one of the more competitive teams in the Big East