Despite a poor shooting night from deep, Villanova was able to take control of the Big East with a 72-63 win over Seton Hall. Daniel Ochefu had a season high 20 points and 18 rebounds for his 6th double-double this year. Ryan Arcidiacono and Kris Jenkins each added 11 points, despite shooting just 4-22 from three as a team. With the win, Villanova becomes the only team to start 3-0 in the Big East this season.
The story of the game early was defense. Both teams were disruptive on defense and sloppy/rushed on offense. That's what you have to expect when the two best defenses in the Big East go head to head. Villanova continued to play inside-out through senior Daniel Ochefu early, but baskets were still hard to come by.
Nova started to hit a groove offensively when Ochefu got two quick baskets to give Nova some breathing room. Then Nova's pressure defense got to work closing passing lanes, trapping, and making shots very difficult for the Pirates. But the pirates were able to apply pressure as well, forcing uncharacteristically poor passes. The result was a gritty defensive struggle that continued through most of the first half.
It was clear by the end of the first half that this was a gritty, tough, defensive, old school Big East game. Despite that, Nova was able to find the basket and started to pull away late in the first half. Ochefu continued to score in the paint, and Kris Jenkins was the only Wildcat able to connect from deep in the first half. Villanova went to the half up 23-30, shooting just 32% from the field and going 2-14 (14%) from deep.
The grind continued in the second half, and it was the interior play on both ends of the court by Ochefu that really pushed the Cats to victory. Between securing a team high 18 rebounds and getting to the free throw line 10 times, Ochefu did everything for the Cats. The key to the victory was the rebounding, where Josh Hart also came up big with 10. The Cats won the battle of the boards by 8, including out rebounding Seton Hall on the offensive glass.
The Cats will look to continue their winning streak as they head to Indianapolis this Saturday to take on Butler.