Coming off their first loss of the season, the Villanova Wildcats got out of their losing ways with a 90-72 win over the No. 24 St. John's Red Storm.
Here are the positives and negatives to take away from the victory.
+ I never thought I would be writing this during this season, but the rebounding by the Wildcats was spectacular. When it was all said and done, Villanova had a +20 advantage on the boards and brought down 14 offensive rebounds. Granted the Red Storm were limited in what they could do on the glass because Chris Obekpa was in foul trouble for most of the second half, but Nova took advantage. Once again, Daniel Ochefu had a monster day on the boards, finishing with a game high 13, and how about Dylan Ennis bringing in nine of his own.
+ Ryan Arcidiacono, even though he had nine points, was terrific and by far had his best game of the season. He managed the offense wonderfully and did exactly what a pure point guard should. Which is hold onto the ball. The most impressive stat by far were his zero turnovers to go along with his 10 assists. It shows that he's finally become the mature point guard that people had been waiting for. This is now his fourth game of the season without a turnover, and for someone who struggled with ball control so much his freshman season, this game was a testament to the work he's put in.
+ The ball movement in certain junctures of the game was picture perfect, and it really was the key for Villanova when the Wildcats made their runs, especially the one that put this game away. The passing and unselfishness opened up a lot of wide open 3-pointers for guys like Darrun Hilliard and Josh Hart, and as a result the 'Cats had one of their best shooting days of the season from beyond the arc (43.5%).
+ Daniel Ochefu also had one of his best games of the season offensively, and he showed the vast improvement he's made in that part of his game. The big key, as I mentioned, was Obekpa being in foul trouble for St. John's and Ochefu took advantage of that and became a force inside on the offensive end, showing off a variety of post moves and taking in right at Obekpa when he came back in, because Ochefu knew he was in foul trouble.
+ The bench was also key, as the Wildcats bench outscored the Red Storm bench 25-7. With all the talk about how balanced the Wildcats are offensively, this only added to the narrative as guys came off the pine willing and ready to shoot often and effectively.
- Turnovers were a real issue for the 'Cats in this one. They committed 13 as a team, and with a dynamic guard like D'Angelo Harrison, it led to easy buckets on the other end. The inability by the team as a whole to control the ball really helped keep St. John's in the game, and going forward it will result in more losses than wins.
- Also, someone needs to teach the Villanova players how to pump fake. In the first half, Obekpa was having a block party because of how predictable the shots were inside for Nova. The 'Cats made some adjustments coming out of halftime, but some of that can be attributed, once again to Obekpa's foul issues.
What's next for the Wildcats
The Wildcats will have a break until Saturday, when they welcome conference leaders (yes it still feels weird to type this) DePaul to The Pavilion at 4 p.m. in a battle for first place in the Big East.