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Three takeaways from Villanova’s 85-74 win over Georgetown

The ‘Cats regrouped and got it done on the road.

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Georgetown Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Villanova Wildcats responded to a rare home loss to Marquette with an 85-74 victory against Georgetown. The win keeps the ‘Cats within shouting distance of Providence at the top of the Big East standings. Meanwhile, this game marks the Hoyas fifth-straight conference loss for the first time in program history.

Here are three takeaways from the game

Tale of Two Halves

Villanova got off to a poor start, trailing Georgetown 40-37 at half-time. The ‘Cats struggled early on against the press, leading to uncharacteristic turnovers. They also allowed the Hoyas to get to the line 13 times and struggled to guard the three-point line as Georgetown shot 40% from behind the arc to open the game.

The start of the second half appeared like it could get ugly with Georgetown leading 47-39 after a Collin Holloway 3-pointer. However, Coach Jay Wright’s half-time adjustments seemed to pay off as Villanova embarked on a 9-0 run to reclaim the lead. In the second half, the ‘Cats shot 63% from the paint and 45.5% from beyond the arc which allowed them to extend their lead. ‘Nova outscored Georgetown 42-26 in the paint overall, which was one of the deciding factors in the game.

​​Wright’s halftime tweaks are largely responsible for their success. In the first half, Georgetown was quite adept at switching matchups to generate open shots. After a number of impressive performances recently, Eric Dixon struggled with switches and perimeter defense. Wright opted for a smaller, quicker lineup in the second half, which was highly effective in slowing down the Hoyas’ offense.

Upperclassmen stepped up to the plate, while others struggled

Upperclassmen Collin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels, Justin Moore, and Caleb Daniels accounted for 77 of Villanova’s 85 total points.

Gillespie had a big day offensively, finishing just two points shy of tying his career-high, which also came against Georgetown on Feb. 3, 2019. Gillespie made 6-of-9 three-point attempts, including four in the second half.

Moore, Samuels, and Daniels put forth strong showings as well. Moore finished with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, seven of which came from inside the paint. Samuels also found success around the basket, finishing with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting, all from the 2-point range. Samuels also contributed with three important steals early in the game to keep Villanova close. Daniels chipped in by scoring 12 points off the bench.

While these four players were able to carry the team to a win against a lesser opponent, other players must contribute if Villanova plans to make a deep run in March.

The ability to space the floor and move the ball to the open shooter is the foundation of Wright’s offense. It seems that the other ‘Cats were lacking confidence, causing them to pass up too many open shots, or just couldn’t find a groove on Saturday. Villanova had only eight assists for the entire game, compared to Georgetown’s 18, as Gillespie and, to a lesser extent, Daniels were the only players willing to take shots behind the arc.

However, in a game like this where the ‘Cats weren’t able to get going in the first half, this is where you would want the senior leadership to step up, and they definitely delivered in this rivalry game.

Georgetown has lots of young talent regardless of their record

The Hoyas are normally led by a trio of guards: freshman Aminu Mohammed, sophomore Dante Harris, and senior Donald Carey. However, Collin Holloway had a breakout night recording a career high of 25 points. He tormented the ‘Cats, scoring 7 of the Hoyas’ first 11 points. He maintained this pace throughout the game, shooting 6-of-6 in the second half and 9-of-10 overall. He also had five assists and three rebounds. Before fouling out, last year’s Big East Tournament MVP Dante Harris had 17 points and six rebounds. Aminu Mohammed, a five-star freshman, scored 13 points, while Donald Carey added 11 points and seven assists.

The Hoyas could have a bright future ahead of them with their young players continuing to develop throughout the upcoming seasons. They had some issues with COVID pauses and quarantines, but they’ve recently gotten everyone back and will try to gel quickly and get back on track.

Looking ahead, the Wildcats will attempt to build with another win back at the Finn against DePaul and St. John’s, before traveling to Marquette for an important rematch. The Hoyas will attempt to get their first Big East win at Connecticut.