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The Sun’s Arizin: Villanova can Win with Defense

The Wildcats showed once again that their offense starts with their defense.

Villanova Mug Arizin Links

Happy Wednesday Nova Nation! Villanova put together their seventh win of the season last night in a classic “Tale of Two Halves” type of game against the Syracuse Orange.

Villanova had a tough time hitting open threes in the first twenty minutes, as can be the case when you live and die by the three. These weren’t bad shots, it’s what the Syracuse zone is designed to give up. But despite not being able to hit shots after an initial flurry by both teams, Villanova stayed true to its defense, keeping it a one score game into halftime.

Then in the second half, Villanova started getting better zone penetration, shots started falling, and we were treated to this lovely sequence:

There’s not much not to love about this. A great steal by Collin Gillespie, a strong finish at the rim by Jermaine Samuels, and Justin Moore right there with them to make sure they finished the play. What I love most about this wasn’t the execution, the dunk, or even just that this seemed to be the moment the game was officially put out of reach for Syracuse. The best thing about this play was that turning defense into offense is what hyped those three players up more than anything else they did all game.

That’s been a staple of Villanova for a while now, pride in defense. It’s what keeps them in games when the “shoot ‘em up, sleep in the streets” mentality has shots not falling. But if you look at the numbers, the defense has just as much to do with Nova’s success this season as the offense. Sure, the Wildcats are ranked 4th in KenPom.com‘s offensive efficiency, but they’ve also held opponents under 60 points in six of nine games this year including five of their last six. The only teams able to crack that threshold were a pair of Top 5 teams away from home and a Howard squad that got hot shooting 50% from deep.

Villanova is now up to #33 in the country in defensive efficiency, and that’s going to be a driving force for them moving forward when the offense sputters. But when both offense AND defense are humming, very few teams are going to be able to slow this Wildcat team down.

And lastly before the links, let’s check back in on the results of yesterday’s poll question of Slater vs Swider:

These two weren’t exactly torching the nets, as Slater was just 2-15 from the field and Swider was 2-7. But one of Swider’s baskets came from deep, and so congrats to the 22% of you that picked Swider as he edged out his former classmate 5-4.

In other news, Jay Wright isn’t a fan of playing against former players, Bridges thought he was headed to New York, and Andy Talley was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Enjoy!

Villanova defeats Syracuse

Jay Wright, Collin Gillespie talk Cole Swider transfer, old Big East & preview Syracuse-Villanova | Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician
Syracuse vs. Villanova in the garden, just like every Big East Tournament

No. 6 Villanova tops Syracuse 67-53 with Baylor on deck | djournal.com
NEW YORK (AP) — Justin Moore scored 18 points, Collin Gillespie had 14 and No. 6 Villanova beat Syracuse 67-53 in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday night.

No. 6 Villanova vs. Syracuse game recap: Wildcats pull away to beat Orange, 67-53 | Big East Coast Bias
Three takeaways, game recap, quotes, and more from a classic rivalry renewed.

No. 6 Villanova pulls away from Syracuse late to win Jimmy V Classic 67-53 | Cuse Nation
Syracuse men's basketball vs. No. 6 Villanova live updates from Jimmy V Classic: Pregame

SU outrebounded, overwhelmed by sixth-ranked 'Nova, 67-53 | Spectrum News
Syracuse got outrebounded by 21 and outscored by 17 in the second half in a 67-53 loss to No. 6 Villanova Tuesday at MSG.

Syracuse's Buddy Boeheim bottled up by No. 6 Villanova in Jimmy V Classic | Cuse Nation
Syracuse's Buddy Boeheim bottled up by No. 6 Villanova in Jimmy V Classic

No. 6 Villanova’s 27 offensive rebounds overmatch Syracuse in 67-53 loss | Daily Orange
Syracuse played well defensively in the first half but faltered late, losing by double digits to the sixth-ranked Wildcats.

NBA Wildcats

Suns’ Mikail Bridges Thought He’d Be a Knick at 2018 Draft | Heavy.com
The budding young star said he figured he would be going to either the Knicks or Sixers, but was wrong on both counts.

Kyle Lowry will have to step up with injuries cooling the Heat | The Star
Butler and Adebayo, Miami’s biggest offensive threats, are sidelined.

Villanova Football

FCS quarterfinal game against Villanova will challenge SDSU football | Argus Leader
South Dakota State’s playoff tour heads east this week, as the Jackrabbits face 5th-seeded Villanova on Saturday in suburban Philadelphia.

After a year wait, Villanova’s Andy Talley finally gets his Hall of Fame moment | Delco Times
It was party time in Las Vegas for Andy Talley and more than 40 of his closest friends, former players and family members. They were all there to see the former Villanova coach inducted into the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame Tuesday night.

Ranking the Eight Coaches left in the FCS Playoffs by Experience | Underdog Dynasty
The eight remaining coaches in the FCS playoffs may have a wide range of experience coming into the quarterfinal round but they all have one thing in common: success.

Favorites To Win The 2021 FCS National Title, Ranked 8-1 | HERO Sports News
The 2021 FCS playoffs are down to eight teams. Who are the top contenders to win the national title? Who are the long-shots?

College Basketball

Offensively challenged Tennessee basketball loses to Texas Tech | Knox News
Tennessee basketball was abysmal offensively in a loss to Texas Tech at Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V Classic.

2022 Men's NCAA Tournament Bracket: Early December Projection of the Field of 68 | Bleacher Report
To match its first-ever AP No. 1 ranking in men's college basketball history, Purdue is the No. 1 overall seed in our latest projection of the 2022 NCAA tournament field...

Purdue Takes Over as Favorite to Win March Madness | Bet Sided
The Purdue Boilermakers have established themselves as betting favorites to win the 2021-22 college basketball national championship.