No. 6 Villanova routs DePaul 99-72
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP)—DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright compared No. 6 Villanova to a vicious Mike Tyson in his prime.
“Run across the ring and try and knock someone out,” he said.
If the Wildcats were Tyson, then DePaul was flattened like Michael Spinks. This one was never in doubt.
Scottie Reynolds scored 21 points, Maalik Wayns had 18 and the Wildcats cruised to another big home victory, 99-72 on Wednesday night.
“They’re not difficult to coach, they want to use our depth to our advantage and it’s fun,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said.
The Wildcats (13-1, 2-0 Big East) won their 34th straight game at their campus home, the Pavilion. Villanova’s last loss there was against DePaul three years ago to the day.
The Blue Demons (7-8, 0-3) never put up a fight in their second straight loss to a top 15 conference opponent. They trailed 15-3 only 4 1/2 minutes into the game and dropped their 22nd straight regular-season Big East game.
Villanova would have KO’d any team with its first-half shooting. Reggie Redding hit consecutive 3s during a 15-0 run and the Wildcats made 14 of their first 19 shots. The Wildcats went 6 of 8 on 3-pointers during the stretch that all but put this win away.
The Wildcats show no sign of tailing off a season after playing in their first Final Four in 24 years. The Big East favorites eked out a victory in the conference opener against Marquette and lost to city rival Temple last month, but have otherwise looked in prime position to make another deep NCAA tournament run.
Reynolds wonders if a deep and talented Big East might be better than last season when it landed three No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament.
Wright said the Wildcats are not far off from where they were a year ago.
“We’re a little bit better offensively, but we’re not as good defensively as we were last year,” Wright said. “We have a chance to be a better team. How we judge a better team and how (the media) judge a better team is different. It doesn’t mean you’re going to get past the Final Four. But you could play better night in and night out.”
The Wildcats thrived in open court transition with a series of long bounce passes turned into layups and forced turnovers into easy fastbreaks.
Even when DePaul hustled, caught up with a streaking Wildcat and appeared to make a positive play, it didn’t work out. Reynolds was nabbed from behind on a fastbreak layup and a DePaul defender got a hand on the shot. The tipped ball went straight up—and plopped through the net for a 51-24 lead.
Mac Koshwal had 17 points and 11 rebounds for DePaul, Nate Rogers scored 14 points and Will Walker added 13.
“Usually we have a little bit better game,” Wainwright said. “They came out and knocked us right out. They really shoot the ball well. That’s not the strength of our team right now.”
The Wildcats played without starting guard Corey Stokes after he strained his right hamstring in Monday’s practice. Isaiah Armwood scored six points and had five steals in his place.
Villanova did welcome back center Mouphtaou Yarou for the first time since Nov. 16 after he was out with hepatitis B. Yarou started the first two games but was sidelined before a November tournament in Puerto Rico.
Yarou scored four points.
Armwood made a nice hustle play in the first half when he dived past a DePaul defender and made a crash landing on a loose ball. The other four Wildcats immediately swarmed him with hugs and high-fives. “Yeah, boy!” Reynolds screamed.
A key play early that set the tone? Hardly. The Wildcats led 37-10 at the time.
Nine players had already scored for Villanova only 5 minutes into the second half. Every Wildcat got their chance at turning this one into a snoozer.
The Blue Demons, who only lost by two to Villanova last season, opened the game with a 3-pointer. They ended Villanova’s 15-0 run with a 3-pointer. And those were the first-half highlights for a program struggling to find its way in a Big East loaded with Top 25 teams.
“We’ve never beaten DePaul like that,” Wright said. “That was encouraging.”
Fans started leaving with 11:51 left and the Wildcats up 67-38. They didn’t miss much the rest of the way. Reynolds scored seven straight points late in the game for a 95-68 lead.
Reynolds and Wayns went a combined 16 of 25 from the field.