After three straight games of energy-draining basketball, Villanova needed a break and the team got just that tonight.
The No. 8 Wildcats got back to winning in convincing fashion with a 67-48 victory over the Butler Bulldogs.
With the win, the Cats improved their record 25-3 and 13-2 in the BIG EAST. Meanwhile, Butler continued its journey towards "Tanking for Andrew Wiggins", falling to 12-16 and 2-14 in conference play.
Butler got off to a quick 2-0 lead, but Villanova claimed the advantage with 16:56 left in the first half, and it was all over from there. The Wildcats did not trail the rest of the way as they cruised to an easy victory.
The story of the game for Butler was the deficiency on the offensive side of the ball. The Dogs recorded their lowest scoring output of the season and they just looked out of sync from start to finish. The team finished with one of its worst shooting performances of the season as they went 15-of-49 from the field.
For those at home, that's 30.6 percent.
To put that in perspective, that's almost 13.0 percent worse than the Bulldogs 43.0 percent shooting percentage this season, which is only good enough for 247th in the nation. If you want even more perspective on that number, consider this: the worst shooting team in college basketball, New Hampshire, clocks in at 37.0 percent from the field and that was still almost seven percentage points better than what Butler shot tonight.
The Dogs were paced on offense by their leading scorer Kellen Dunham. The sophomore finished with 12 points, but that was part of a 3-of-13 shooting night that included a 1-of-9 clip from beyond the arc. Dunham made most of his money (Figuratively, NCAA People) from the free-throw line, shooting 5-6 from the charity stripe. He also led the team with seven rebounds.
Also reaching double figures for the Bulldogs was Khyle Marshall, who ended the game with 10 points on a surprisingly efficient 5-10 shooting night.
Now, despite pouring it on for Butler's offensive woes, Villanova was not much better. Jay Wright's squad scored less than 70 points for the second consecutive game after reaching that scoring plateau the previous six. In this one, the Cats shot only 39 percent, not much to be proud of despite pulling out the victory.
Similar to the Dogs, Villanova had only two guys score double digits tonight. For the second straight game, Darrun Hilliard was at least tied for the individual scoring lead racking up 11 points. Much like Dunham of Butler, Hilliard was extremely inefficient from the field, shooting 5-of-13 from the field and only 1-of-7 from the three-point line.
Tied for tops scoring on Nova in this game was leading offensive weapon this season James Bell. Bell scored 11 points and was on fire from beyond the arc, finishing 2-7 (insert sarcasm here).
The Cats will now focus their sights on extending their current win streak to four games when they welcome the Marquette Golden Eagles to the Pavilion this Sunday. For the Bulldogs, they will just trying to end their season as soon as possible. They will take one more step towards that goal when they travel to DePaul on March 6 for the much-anticipated battle for BIG EAST futility.