The Villanova Wildcats took a right hook from the NJIT Highlanders for a good portion of the game, but withstood the onslaught and rallied to pulverize their opponent by the score of 92-67.
Despite NJIT's raucous effort, rivaling the one they had when they upset Michigan earlier this month, talent would win out as 'Nova would end the game on a 41-16 run after Dylan Ennis tied the game with 12:54 remaining in the 2nd half. Speaking of Ennis, he would lead all scorers with 17 points, while fellow guard Ryan Arcidiacono scored 16 on Tuesday night. Four other Villanova players joined them in double figures as Phil Booth, Kris Jenkins, Daniel Ochefu and reigning Big East Player of the Week JayVaughn Pinkston scored 14, 11, 13 and 12 points respectively.
Leading the way for the Highlanders was forward Tim Coleman who scored 12 points. Overall, the Highlanders hardly played bad but the disparity in field goal percentage and turnovers wound up being the difference maker.
Here are three things we learned from this matchup:
1. Villanova flashed its ability to survive yet again
It becomes a hallmark for a team if they continue to find ways to win. 'Nova withstood the punches pulled by NJIT for much of the first and second half and exploded on their way to victory. After their tremendous comeback win over Syracuse on Saturday, the 'Cats proved yet again that they can do what's asked: survive and advance.
2. 'Nova's ability to keep control of the basketball proved to be vital
The Highlanders, as mentioned before, could not do a great job of taking care of the ball. They committed 17 turnovers inside The Pavilion and on the flip side, the Wildcats only had five. Coming into the game the 'Cats were committing turnovers at just a 17.5 percent rate, and forcing turnovers 24.5 percent of the time. It simply can't be understated how great it was for the Wildcats to be able to get it done in this department, and proved very helpful in the end.
3. The Wildcats ready to ring in the new year
Good news, everyone: conference season is almost here! New Year's Eve is set to be a huge day for the Big East Conference and this was Villanova's final matchup of their nonconference schedule -- at least before New Year's Eve. The Wildcats still have a matchup with Penn on January 17. And the added bonus for 'Cats fans is that their team went through the latter part of 2014 unbeaten despite tough tests against Bucknell, Michigan, Illinois, Syracuse, and of course NJIT on Tuesday evening. They'll now bide their time over the next eight days as they'll welcome the Butler Bulldogs to The Pavilion on the last day of 2014.