Booth, DiVincenzo showcase Villanova’s depth with blowout win over Xavier

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 10: Donte DiVincenzo /

The Villanova Wildcats dominated Xavier 89-65 with Phil Booth scoring a season high 21 points.

Returning to the No 1 spot on the AP Poll, all eyes were on how the Villanova Wildcats would fare against an admirable opponent in the No. 10 ranked Xavier team.

With a record of 14-1, Villanova has been the talk of the town. Universal praise has been given to Jalen Brunson, who is arguably the best guard in the nation and having one of the best offensive years in the Jay Wright era. Also, much has been said of Mikal Bridges, who with an 84-inch wingspan and ability to shoot 3’s, is one of the best versatile wings playing today. There’s even the freshman Omari Spellman with the ball handling ability, and shot that is likely to draw recruiters out in droves searching for the next great big-man in the NBA.

These players are all at the top of their game, but who knew there would be room for even more star power on this already exceptional team. Both Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo are making their case for recognition in a star studded lineup.

Against Xavier, Booth opened up the game with a deep 3-point shot, setting the tone for the Wildcats to jump ahead with an aggressive lead. By halftime, the Wildcats were up 40-28 and Booth was already in double digits, scoring 11 points while going 3-for-6 from deep and even dished out three assists.

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Booth ended the game with 21 points to go along with four assists, and four steals while going 8-for-11 from the field and 5-for-8 from beyond the arc. The 21 points against Xavier marked a season high for Booth.

Another player making a mark in recent weeks is DiVincenzo, who is arguably one of the best sixth men in the nation. Against Xavier, DiVincenzo scored 11 points, making it his seventh straight game scoring double-digit points.

In DiVincenzo’s last three games, he has six steals. That number doesn’t entirely do justice to the defensive presence and the constant pressure he applies to opposing guards. He is the gritty hustler of the team, always getting his hand on the ball or physically going all-in for a loose ball or rebound. He is also quick to jump the passing lane on the outside, leading to fast break opportunities.

Along with his defensive ability, DiVincenzo does bring a certain energetic shift to the Wildcats offense with his superb passing. His ability to either narrowly split two defenders with a pass or spot an open read on the perimeter provides the Wildcats with an extra weapon. He moves the ball where it needs to be unselfishly and without hesitation.

The play of the game was kicked off by a DiVincenzo steal. After intercepting a pass, he quickly dished it off to Eric Paschall for the fast break opportunity. The ball moved to Booth, who tossed up an alley-oop back for Paschall to slam it down. All three of these players are earning their keep on this roster, and it’s been amazing to watch.

With Colin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels sidelined with injuries, the current six man rotation may be a cause for concern going forward. But luckily, the bench players, DiVincenzo and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, have responded to their increased minutes remarkably well.

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Aside from Booth and Divincenzo, three other players scored double digit points, Brunson (17), Bridges (15) and Paschall (14). Omari Spellman, who has been struggling offensively as of late, only put up five points but managed to get six rebounds and two blocks.

Up next the Wildcats start off their road trip going up against St John’s on Jan. 13, followed by Georgetown on Jan. 17 before ending the road trip on Jan. 20 against Connecticut.