Given the cancellation of this year’s NCAA Tournament, we have decided to use the next few weeks to look back and remember Villanova’s greatest tournament successes of the past. We will be walking through Villanova’s three National Championships on a game-by-game basis. So, as you’re locked inside quarantining and social distancing, share your thoughts, memories, and stories as we relive Villanova’s greatest moments.
#2 Villanova Wildcats vs. #2 Oklahoma Sooners
April 2, 2016
Tune in to the VUHoops’ screening of the National Semifinal of the 2016 NCAA Tournament between #2 Villanova and #2 Oklahoma TONIGHT AT 7:00 p.m. EST.
The game should play simultaneously for all who are watching so please take part in the live game chat!
Link: VUHoops Re-Watch
Villanova makes title game after biggest Final Four blowout ever
HOUSTON — Villanova had a night to remember on both ends of the court.
Buddy Hield had a night to forget.
The Wildcats, setting a record for margin of victory in a Final Four semifinal, held Hield to his second-lowest output of the season in a 95-51 victory over Oklahoma on Saturday night.
”That was just one of those nights,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “I feel bad for Oklahoma.”
He can feel good for his Wildcats (34-5) as they advanced to Monday night’s national championship game against North Carolina.
Josh Hart scored 23 points and his 10-of-12 shooting performance was part of Villanova’s 71.4 percent (35-of-49) effort. Villanova missed just five shots in the second half.
The margin topped the 34-point Final Four wins by Cincinnati over Oregon State in 1962 and Michigan State over Penn in 1979.
The Wildcats now have four wins in the tournament of at least 19 points, the only close game a 5-point win over overall No. 1 seed Kansas in the Elite Eight.
Villanova dominated the Sooners (29-8) after an opening 7 minutes that had the teams trading the lead almost every possession.
The Wildcats broke it open with a 21-4 run. The stats about NRG Stadium being a horrible place to shoot went out the window along with the Sooners’ chances at playing for their first title.
”I definitely think it helped,” Wright said of practicing shooting in the dome. “We’re going to be good,’ we keep telling them, and I think they believed that.”
The Wildcats, with Hart going 7-for-8, shot 66.7 percent in the first half, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range in taking a 42-28 halftime lead.
”I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but when you have guys like (teammates) you can go off any night,” Hart said. “When they’re aggressive, it helps me. The driving lanes, able to get a couple of shots to fall, when that happens, able to kick out and get some guys some shots.”
As the Wildcats, who won it all in 1985 with the shocking upset of Georgetown, kept making shots, Hield kept missing.
Hield, a unanimous All-America selection, was 3-for-8 in the first half, including 1-of-5 from beyond the arc. Hield came into the game shooting 46.5 percent from 3-point range.
”Just playing defensively as a team ... we contained him,” Hart said.
Hield kept putting on and off his familiar white sleeve on his right arm. It didn’t matter as the Sooners absorbed their worst loss of the season.
The Sooners finished 31.7 percent (19-of-60) for the game.
”Just credit them for what they were doing. Made it tough on me throwing multiple bodies at me,” said Hield, who had six points against West Virginia. “They just played terrific tonight.”
Several Wildcats get credit for the great defense against Hield.
”We were just loading into him,” Mikal Bridges said. “We just tried our best to limit his touches and load to him when he had the ball.”
Jordan Woodard led the Sooners with 12 points.
Villanova turned the tables from the teams’ December meeting with a 21-4 run in the first half.
The Wildcats made one less 3-pointer in the run than they did in 32 attempts in the 78-55 loss at Pearl Harbor. Bridges, Jenkins and Arcidiacono hit the long jumpers for Villanova and Oklahoma, meanwhile, couldn’t get anything going. The Sooners went 4½ minutes without scoring. They committed four turnovers on their first five possessions of the drought
Hart capped the half for Villanova with a 3-pointer with 8 seconds left that made it 42-28.
The Wildcats had as many assists (9) as Oklahoma did turnovers. Villanova shot 66.7 percent (18-of-27), whereas the Sooners were just 12-for-25 (48 percent).
”I’m happy we had one of those games, we made every shot,” Wright said. “Kind of similar to our game in Hawaii against Oklahoma, they made everything, we couldn’t make anything.
”We were dialed in. Played great defensively.”
Seemingly imperfect Villanova played the perfect game
BY JEFF GOODMAN
HOUSTON — No one gave him a chance. He was just the good-looking, perfectly put-together coach with the satchel who couldn’t get out of the first weekend.
All glitz, no substance.
Now Jay Wright, with only one more victory, will have a chance to join Rollie Massimino in the annals of Villanova Wildcats basketball.
This was a team that was picked apart and passed over, one without a star, whom few casual college basketball fans were able to rattle off a single player’s name until Saturday night’s 95-51 annihilation of the Oklahoma Sooners.
Now this starless squad from the Main Line will get a chance to join Ed Pinckney’s Cinderella group from 1985 with a victory on Monday night in the national championship game.
”This doesn’t mean s---,” Villanova’s leader and senior point guard Ryan Arcidiacono said as he walked out of the locker room. “Not if we don’t win Monday night.”
It wouldn’t be quite the miracle that Massimino helped orchestrate 31 years ago over Patrick Ewing and mighty Georgetown, but like that one — no one truly expected this.
”I didn’t see this coming,” were the most uttered five words in the arena following the game.
Oklahoma boasted the best player in the country — Buddy Hield. Buddy Buckets was a scoring machine who entered the game averaging 25.4 points and was shooting 50 percent from the field and 47 percent from deep. The Sooners had also completely outclassed Villanova back in December at Pearl Harbor in what had been a season-changer for the Wildcats.
Now no one will remember the 78-55 thrashing on Dec. 7 in which Villanova looked as if it were playing AAU basketball, jacking up ill-advised 3 after 3 and finishing the game making only 4-of-32 shots from beyond the arc.
That was when everyone wrote off Wright & Co. Sure, the Wildcats were a nice team that hailed from an overachieving Big East, but they couldn’t put together six consecutive wins. Not when they hadn’t been able to win two straight the last six years following Wright’s lone Final Four appearance in 2009.
This time though, the stars aligned perfectly. Villanova rotated defenders and made Hield look ordinary, and the Wildcats got contributions from just about everyone down the line. There was the circus shot from Josh Hart as the shot clock wound down, the incredible catch and finish from Mikal Bridges on a full-court pass. Six players, led by Hart’s 23 points, finished in double figures.
Villanova didn’t quite match the 78 percent shooting of Massimino’s team in the title game, but the Wildcats did wind up shooting a scorching 71 percent from the field. They made 35 of their 49 shots, and seven of the 14 misses came from beyond the arc.
But it was the stellar defense that was the real surprise. Everyone knows that Villanova can score, but Wright’s team held a potent Oklahoma offense to 20 percent shooting from the field in the second half, and out-toughed the Sooners for all but the first couple of minutes after halftime.
Hield made only four baskets and finished with nine points on 4-of-12 shooting. The future lottery pick made 1-of-8 from beyond the arc.
”It was just one of those nights for us,” Arcidiacono said. “A little surreal.”
”I can’t even process this,” Rafferty said of his extended stint.
But you wouldn’t know that the Wildcats had just got done putting the finishing touches on what was the most brutal beatdown in Final Four history when the locker room opened after the win.
There was no celebration. No yelling or screaming. Not many smiles to be found around the room. In fact, the scene was eerily similar to when Villanova took care of Providence on the road in early February.
”The journey isn’t over for us,” Kris Jenkins said.
”We came here to win two games,” Arcidiacono said.
Wright is now in his 15th season at Villanova. The 54-year-old has been a hot commodity before with Kentucky making a run at him before hiring John Calipari in 2009. There were many who felt he’d be coaching the Philadelphia 76ers by now, but his star had dimmed in recent years — and he made no attempt to hide the frustration of the recent tourney struggles. A few more early exits and there might have been some wondering whether it was time to move on from the Wright era.
Now, with one more victory, the perception of this anonymous team — and its coach — will change forever.