So much for any possibility of a trap game.
With their biggest game of the season on-tap for Saturday, the No. 6 Villanova Wildcats refused to look past DePaul, as they thoroughly thrashed the Blue Demons 87-62.
The win improves Nova's season record to 22-2 and 10-1 in the BIG EAST. On the other side of the box score, DePaul falls to 10-15 and 2-10 in BIG EAST play, as the chances of Oliver Purnell returning for a fifth season continue to dwindle game-by-game.
If there is any credit to give to the home team, and trust me there might not be much, it is that the obviously outmatched Blue Demons were able to at least keep the contest close for a quarter of the game. Through roughly the first 10 minutes of the game, the Demons of Chicago shot 9-14 from the field as the team trailed by only a score of 26-22 with 10:21 left in the first half.
Small victories, folks.
Then, as the Wildcats seem to do without fail, they woke up and realized that they are an obviously superior team. And then they played like it.
The rest of the game belonged to Jay Wright's crew, as they took that four-point advantage and ran with it. By halftime, Nova extended the lead out 17 points. By the end of the game, it only increased more, to the tune of a 25-point advantage.
The story of the game for the Cats came from beyond the arc. The team dropped an unexpected shower to all the spectators inside of Allstate Arena to a degree that had not been done by Villanova all season. As a group, they shot 57.0 percent from beyond the arc.
And if you think that's a typo, I'm here to tell you that while that is a perfectly acceptable thought it is indeed the truth.
In terms of the straight number of 3-pointers made, Villanova finished with 15 trey bombs, which is a season high. Individually, Ryan Arcidiacono came back to life from outside the arc in a big way. After shooting a combined 4-16 from 3-point range in his past four outings (including a putrid 0-6 showing most recently), Arcidiacono shot 4-4 from beyond the arc in this one.
Free throws were also a significant factor. As striking a factor as one can find in a 25-point demolition. Villanova shot seven fewer attempts than DePaul from the charity stripe (20 as opposed to 27), yet made the same amount regardless (18), due to a 90.0 percent mark from the line.
Also a notable stat was that for the first time since January 20, the team's leading scorer was not named James Bell. Instead, Darrun Hilliard lead the way for the victorious Wildcats with 22 points, a season high for him. This scoring output was immensely affected by his five made three-pointers, which for any stat junkies out there, was a career-high for him.
Rounding out the scoring for the victors was James Bell, who had another ho-hum game with 16 points to go along with eight rebounds, and JayVaughn Pinkston, who finished with a double-double that included 14 points and 11 rebounds.
For DePaul, let's just say that it was evident that they missed leading scorer Cleveland Melvin. Melvin, no longer enrolled at the school as of Monday, and his presence were both sorely missed against the Wildcats, as the Blue Demons shot 11-40 after that initial hot start. Consequently were held under 70 points for the fifth time in the last seven games.
Brandon Young led the Blue Demons on offense, finishing with a season-high 27 points. Young attempted to establish himself as the new go-to scorer on the team, but outside of him, points were pretty hard to come by. Sandi Marcius was the only other DePaul player to finish in double figures with 10 points.
The rest of the Blue Demon squad combined for a meager 25 points, less than Young's scoring total on his own. It would not take an expert to say with total confidence that this kind of offensive inefficiency will not win many games or save Purnell's job.
With another blowout victory behind them, the Wildcats now have revenge on their minds when they travel to Omaha to take on Creighton on Sunday, with BIG EAST superiority hanging in the balance. Meanwhile, the Blue Demons will travel to Providence on Saturday as they try to save their coach's dying job.