Chicago, IL – The nation’s top ranked team opened their conference schedule with a scorching performance from behind the arc. Despite being outscored in the paint and outrebounded by a 50-32 margin, Villanova was in complete control throughout the entire contest due to a 15-of-31 three-point shooting barrage. The Wildcats, who moved the ball in Spurs-esque fashion, were up by 12 less than seven minutes into the game, held a 15-point lead at the break, extended their lead to 25 less than three minutes into the second half, and coasted to a 103-85 victory over DePaul.
Though this may not come as a surprise given that Villanova and DePaul were projected to finish first and last in the Big East, respectively, there were still a variety of takeaways from a macro-perspective, and a multiple telling performances from highly talented prospects.
A projected NBA lottery pick 6-7 junior Mikal Bridges continued his run of ultra-efficiency, despite early foul trouble. Bridges’ performance was a microcosm of his reputation as a prototypical three-and-D swingman. Bridges knocked down four silky smooth threes on the way to a 20-point, five-rebound performance. His 7-2 wingspan gave DePaul fits throughout the evening and led to numerous fast-break opportunities.
Projected NBA late first round / early second round floor general, 6-3 junior Jalen Brunson (16 points, five assists, two turnovers) was tough as nails. He knifed through the lane at will, led the break with both explosive burst and disciplined decision-making, and proved to be one of the strongest, toughest guards in the nation on both ends of the court.
DePaul’s 6-6 junior Max Strus, a transfer from D-2 Lewis University had his coming out party a mere 11 days ago with a 33-point outburst against Northwestern, and showed, once again, that he belongs at this level. Despite shooting only 2-of-8 from three, Strus put up quite an impressive line (20 points, nine rebounds, six assists) against the best team in the country, and showed that he has more to his game than just his jump shot. Strus was a monster on the offensive glass, had several tough finishes in the lane, and his assists were impressive, most of which were facilitated by strongly, decisively attacking the paint.
Stats of the Night
- Points off Turnovers: Villanova (32) DePaul (11)
- Fast Break Points: Villanova (10) DePaul (0)
Villanova (13-0, 1-0) travels to Indianapolis to take on the Butler Bulldogs and DePaul (7-6, 0-1) travels to Cincinnati to take on the Xavier on Saturday.
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