Villanova: The Wildcats continue to dominate with revamped defense

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Showcasing their defensive chops, Villanova blew out Providence 89-69, solidifying their No 1 rank in the nation.

In the Villanova Wildcats‘ recent blow out victory over Providence the team once again started the game off slow. Five minutes into play they were 0-for-2 from the field and 1-for-5 from beyond the arc. It was déjà vu from their last game on January 20th against Connecticut where they started 3-for-16 from the field.

With eight minutes remaining in the first half, Providence capitalized on Villanova’s lack of scoring and took an early 22-13 lead. But kickstarted by a Donte DiVincenzo three-pointer, the Wildcats turned it around offensively. In the next eight minutes, Villanova went on a 26-8 run, giving Villanova the lead 39-30 by halftime.

In the second half, Villanova was able to build their cushion up to double digits. They maintained a stronghold for the rest of the game with Eric Paschall leading the way, he finished the game with 17 points. Villanova had six players with double-digit points, the other leaders behind Paschall were Omari Spellman (16) and Jalen Brunson (15).

What kept Providence from running away with the game after building a nine-point lead was Villanova’s recent stellar defensive play. Villanova was able to force 14 turnovers which turned into 18 points for Villanova. After the new year, Jay Wright owned up to the team’s defensive struggles saying “We’re not a great defensive team yet.” via

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Since Wright made a point of emphasis on improving the defense, the Wildcats have only given up an average of 64.4 points in the last five games. In the three games before that, opponents were averaging 92.0 points against Villanova. In that same five-game span, they’ve held opposing teams to 23.5 percent from beyond the arc compared to 43 percent in the previous three games.

Sporting one of the best offensive players in the nation in Brunson, and also ranked first in adjusted offense according to Kenpom, it makes sense that the offensive powerhouse will want to focus on defense before March.

With this new level of defensive play from the Wildcats, they seem to have the Big East title all but claimed. However, Wright may want to focus on rebounding. Against Providence, they were out-rebounded on the offensive glass 21-12.

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Up next, on January 28th, Villanova will be on the road against Marquette, a team that was able to put up 90 against the Wildcats in their last meeting. If the Wildcats have another slow start offensively, they might dig a hole too deep to recover from.