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Tournament Throwback: #1 Villanova vs. #1 Kansas (2018)

The Wildcats blitzed the Jayhawks in a lopsided Final Four match-up

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NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Villanova vs Kansas Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Game Watch

Tune in to the VUHoops’ screening of the National Semifinals of the 2018 NCAA Tournament between #1 Villanova and #1 Kansas 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

3s please: Villanova sets F4 record in 95-79 win over Kansas

SAN ANTONIO — To sum things up, Villanova was feelin’ it Saturday night.

Like every night that ends in “Y” for the Wildcats.

Like all these games where they walk away with a “W” and leave their opponents shaking their heads.

Villanova moved within a win of another title, sinking a Final Four-record 18 3-pointers, while cementing itself as the most-prolific 3-point-shooting team in college history in a 95-79 runaway over Kansas.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Villanova vs Kansas Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

”Well, that was just one of those nights,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said.

Normally the third or fourth option on a team full of shooters, junior wingman Eric Paschall led the barrage, going 4 for 5 from 3, 10 for 11 overall, and finishing with a career-high 24 points.

But the hoop was as wide as the Alamodome for pretty much everyone in a Wildcats jersey.

Seven `Nova players made 3s. Villanova tied the Final Four record for 3s in game with 3:45 left in the first half. The Wildcats shot 45 percent from 3 — 5 points higher than their season average, which ranked 15th in the nation this season.

Next up is Michigan, which will try to guard the perimeter Monday night when Villanova (35-5) goes for its second title in three seasons.

Good luck with that.

Nobody has had much success this season, and in what turned out to be an unexpectedly lopsided matchup between top seeds, Kansas (31-8) certainly didn’t Saturday night. AP Player of the Year Jalen Brunson made three 3s and finished with 18 points. Omari Spellman made three, as well, in a 15-point, 13-rebound monster game.

”As good a team as I’ve played against that I can remember,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We got spread out on defense. The game plan went to crap. You get caught in between on defense, and it’s the worst thing you can do.”

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Villanova vs Kansas Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

About a minute into the second half, Paschall drained a 3 for Villanova’s 14th of the game, breaking a Final Four record first set by UNLV in 1987.

Much earlier, at about the 13-minute mark of the first half, Collin Gillespie spotted up and swished for `Nova’s sixth 3 of the game, which gave it the NCAA record for 3s in a season, with 442.

VMI set that record in 2007. Very few remember that team, though, because even though the importance of the long shot has grown as the decades have passed, it’s never been thought of as a guaranteed way to win consistently.

Wright’s team is laying waste to that theory and, at times, making other teams look bad while doing it.

On Saturday, the typical Villanova possession involved working the ball down low on the wing, then a skip pass across the bottom of the paint, followed by one, two or three passes around the arc until somebody got open. It usually worked. Against both the Jayhawks’ man defense and their zone. Most of `Nova’s 18 makes barely skimmed the net.

”We knew they’d have to miss some pretty decent looks, but they got anything they wanted early, and they knocked everything down,” Self said.

Villanova attempted 40 shots from 3, and only 25 from 2.

Gillespie’s record-setter gave Villanova a 22-4 lead, and at that point, Kansas had as many turnovers as points and had taken as many timeouts as it had field goals.

Self did what he could, urging his 7-foot center, Udoka Azubuike, out of the paint and into the faces of this group of hybrid forward-guards, all of whom can shoot. The big fella couldn’t get there.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Villanova vs Kansas Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Jayhawks, back in the dome where they cut down the nets 10 years ago after their last title, made mini runs. But the deficit never got below double digits.

Devonte Graham, the senior guard who has been the glue in this Final Four season, led Kansas with 23 points. Malik Newman, who pushed his game into overdrive during the postseason, had 21. They combined to make 6 of 13 3-pointers themselves, but didn’t get much help.

Much of that was credit to the Villanova defense. Wright and co. spent more time in the postgame talking about defense and rebounding than the shooting clinic they put on.

”If we didn’t get stops, it was getting back to being a five- or six-point game,” Wright said.

But they did.

And it didn’t.

About the only drama in the second half was whether the Wildcats would top Loyola Marymount’s NCAA Tournament record of 21 3-pointers in a game (against Michigan in 1990). Didn’t happen, mainly because they didn’t need it too.

But there’s still Monday.

”They’ll be hard for anyone to deal with,” Self said, “if they shoot the ball like that.”

Final Four: Villanova shoots down Kansas with record-setting barrage of threes


SAN ANTONIO — Villanova will play for its second national championship in three seasons after a 95-79 win over Kansas in the national semifinal at the Alamodome.

Two years ago, it took a last-second triple from Kris Jenkins to get the Wildcats a title. Saturday night in San Antonio, Jenkins watched from press row as his former teammates lit it up with a record-setting performance from three.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Villanova vs Kansas Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Villanova was hot hot HOT from three in the first half, connecting on 13 of 26 attempts from long distance. Thirteen treys in the opening 20 minutes tied the Final Four record for a game, set by UNLV in 1987 — the first year the three-pointer was available in college basketball.

The Wildcats went ahead and broke that record 60 seconds into the second half, when Eric Paschall buried one in front of Villanova’s bench — with the clock winding down. They finished with 18 triples.

The Wildcats played eight players in the first half; seven of them hit at least one three pointer. Paschall abused Kansas all night, finishing with a game-high 24 points on 10-of-11 shooting (he went 4-of-5 from three). Point guard Jalen Brunson (18 points, six assists) was his usual steady self, and Omari Spellman and the rest of the defenders mostly neutralized Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (eight points and five rebounds). Spellman got open look after open looking, finishing with 15. He cleaned up on the boards, too, grabbing 13 rebounds.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Villanova vs Kansas Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to decide what was more surprising about Villanova’s win: The Wildcats’ hot shooting, or the fact that they only attempted seven free throws Saturday night.

Six Villanova players scored in double figures, and the Wildcats dished out 20 assists on 36 made field goals. Kansas shot just 33 percent from three (7-of-21). KU was led by Devonte’ Graham’s 23 points, but it took him 18 shots to get there.

Key moments

How to pick just a few? First Villanova went on a 9-0 run early in the first half, which prompted Kansas to call a timeout. Then the Wildcats went on 11-0 run. By the time Phil Booth connected on a three with 9:42 to go, the Jayhawks found themselves trailing by 15.

Kansas went zone soon after that, and Villanova went four consecutive possessions without scoring. Then the Wildcats starting hitting three again, and at halftime they had a 47-32 lead.

With 3:47 left in the first half, Booth hit another three, tying the Final Four record. With 19:00 to go in the game it was Paschall, with the shot clock winding down, who connected on the record-breaker, giving Villanova a 50-34 lead.

Kansas cut it to 14 with 9:12 to go, then forced a five-second count, but Villanova scored on its next two possessions. The Jayhawks could get no closer. Villanova’s largest lead came with 13:14 to go, when the Wildcats got up 22.

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