The Villanova Wildcats scored 14 seconds into the game on a slashing lay-up by Josh Hart. They would hold the lead until the final whistle, winning 83-62 and earing their third consecutive Big East regular season title. While the DePaul Blue Demons would give them a run for their money a few times, the Cats always had an answer. More times than not, that answer was Kris Jenkins, who had a career high 31 points, hitting 8 3pointers and shooting over 61% from the field. At one point in the first half, he went on a 14-0 run by himself en route to a 20 point first half. Hart also had double digits points in the first half, finishing with 18 on the night. The Wildcats have now won the regular season title in each of the "new" Big East's first 3 seasons.
Villanova won the tip and got on the board quickly as Josh Hart slashed through the defense for a quick finish at the rim. Their defense started even quicker, creating turnovers on each of DePaul's first two possessions. Hart would score the next two buckets as well, and Nova jumped to an early 6-0 lead with just under 18 minutes to play in the first.
DePaul quickly got on the board with a 3pointer by Aaron Simpson, but the Cats continue to pull away off an And1 basket by Kris Jenkins and a breakaway basket by Jalen Brunson. By the 16 minute mark, Nova had already stretched their lead out to 8.
Again, the Blue Demons came out of the timeout hot, going on an 8-0 run off the strength of back-to-back 3-pointers. Head Coach was forced to take a timeout to get his squad back on track with the score 11-10. This time it was Nova's turn to come out of the gates hot as Jenkins hit a triple right out of the gate, followed immediately by a DePaul turnover and a second Jenkins three. But the junior wasn't there, as he would go on to hit two more 3-pointers and a break-away layup for a personal 14-0 run on the Blue demons. DePaul had to call another timeout, now down 25-10 with 10:26 remaining in the first.
This time around, DePaul wasn't able to score out of the timeout, but a costly Villanova turnover on the next possession lead to a breakaway basket And1 for the Blue Demons. Arcidiacono was able to answer with his own 3, and the teams would start trading baskets from there. At the 7 minute mark, Villanova still held a double digit lead at 31-18. When play resumed, Darryl Reynolds was able to isolate his man on the post for a short hook shot, but DePaul answered with a 3-pointer off a blown defensive coverage. The teams would again go back and forth, this time at the free throw line. But at the 5 minute mark, DePaul still trailed by 12.
A costly turnover and foul allowed the Blue Demons to pull the game back to single digits at the 3:30 mark, but Reynolds quickly answered with a slam at the other end. DePaul's Eli Cain hit an impressive contested three to bring his team back to within 8. After Arcidiacono went 1-2 at the line, Jenkins and Phil Booth hit back-to-back threes to push the lead back up to 15 with a minute to go in the half. Holding for the last shot, Hart was able to slash through the paint and hit a pull up jumper as time expired. The Wildcats went to the locker-room up 51-33, lead by Jenkins' 20 points on 7-9 shooting. Hart also had double digits in the first, scoring 11 on 5-7 shooting.
The second half looked a lot like the first, with Jenkins hitting back-to-back 3pointers right out the gate. After a Daniel Ochefu free throw, the teams went back and forth trading missed shots and turnovers. With 15:30 left to play, the Wildcats lead 58-35.
Out of the timeout, DePaul tried to continue inching their way back into the game, taking advantage of a Villanova team that had gone cold from the floor and was giving up baskets in the paint on defense. But the Wildcats responded, as they often do, with defensive pressure. They forced a 10 second violation on the Blue Demons, and followed that with a corner three from Jenkins, his 8th of the game at that point.
DePaul would eventual get the lead back under 20 points, but it wouldn't last as Jenkins made a great cut to the basket and scored off the Ochefu assist. The second half was filled with the physical play the Big East, and both teams started racking up the fouls. Both teams were into the bonus at the 7:23 mark when Hart went to the line and hit both ends of a 1 and 1 to put Nova up 69-47.
Hart would go right back to the line after being fouled on a 3point attempt, but this time went just 2 for 3. On the defensive end, the Wildcats switched to their zone in an attempt to slow down a DePaul team that was now fighting the clock as well. Jenkins continued to fill up the stat sheet, this time hitting an open Phil Booth for a three. Jalen Brunson followed that with a basket And1, and DePaul was forced to call another timeout down 23 with just 4:21 left in the game.
Jenkins hit Booth again for an open three to extend the Nova lead to 24 points as the clock continued to wind down on the Blue Demons. They were able to cut the lead to 19 with just over 2 minutes left, but it was too little too late. The bench mob was checking in, a sure sign of a Villanova victory. The Wildcats defeated DePaul 83-62.