The #10 Villanova Wildcats ran away with this one early as the Army Black Knights were simply no match for the defending Big East Champions. In total, four Wildcats scored in double digits on the night, and the team shot 39% from behind the arc.
Nova was led by star freshman Jeremiah Robinson-Earl who put up a double-double in his first collegiate game. His 24 points and 13 rebounds were both team highs as the rookie showed he’s going to be a major factor for the Wildcats this season. Coach Wright said of his star player, “I’m over being surprised. I’m impressed with his maturity and IQ... he’s coachable, and I think he’s got a big upside.”
Saddiq Bey was also an offensive force for Villanova with 22 points of his own on the night. Other double digit scorers included Cole Swider (16) and Collin Gillespie (11). Jermaine Samuels also had a big game, leading Villanova with 5 assists while adding 8 points and 9 rebounds.
Following the game, Wright spoke to the fact that this was the first time he started two freshmen (Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Justin Moore) in the opening game of the season since 2002 when Allen Ray and Randy Foye got the nod. “It’s different starting these two, because everyone in the program knows what they’re doing... They have some guys around them, they have a system to come into. We didn’t have anything set back then.” He continued, “These two have really high Basketball IQs, not that the other two didn’t, but these two are exceptional.”
After trading the first few buckets of the game, Villanova went on an early 16-0 run and never looked back from there. It was the younger Wildcats who really spurred on the offense three players reaching double digit scoring by the end of the first half. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl led the charge by nearly putting up a first half double-double with 15 points and 9 rebounds. Saddiq Bey had 12 points while Cole Swider added another 10. Collin Gillespie led the team in first half assists with 4.
The second half was much of the same as the Wildcats kept their foot on the gas the rest of the way. With around five minutes left in the game, head coach Jay Wright pulled most of the starters to let the bench players close out the game. The Bench mob even got some run as the seconds ticked down on the first Villanova win of the season.
Villanova will next travel to Columbus, Ohio to take on Ohio State as part of the Gavitt Games on Wednesday, November 13th.
Other News and Notes
- Villanova’s starting lineup was Gillespie, Moore, Bey, Samuels, and Robinson-Earl
- 2006 grad Allen Ray was on hand for the game, as were 2017 grads Kris Jenkins and Darryl Reynolds.
- It was Military Appreciation Night, and players wore warm-ups with the phrase “Committing To Serving Those Who Have Served”
- Collin Gillespie will wear a mask to start the season as he continues to recover from corrective surgery after breaking his nose last month
- Saddiq Bey changed his number from #15 to #41 in order to honor his mother, who wore #41 in college
- Eric Dixon was the only eligible Wildcat that did not see any playing time in the game. Wright said after the game “Just a coaches decision right now. Nothing bad, just saving him up.”
Post Game Press Conference