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Villanova mollywhops Wake Forest in Charleston Classic Semifinal

Josh Hart goes bananas to lead the ‘Cats past the Demon Deacons

NCAA Basketball: Lafayette at Villanova Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

When Jay Wright’s No. 3 Villanova Wildcats are making shots, they become nearly impossible to beat.

Such was the case on Friday as the ‘Cats shot 34-59 (57.6%) from the field and 16-31 (51.6%) from deep to blow past Danny Manning’s Wake Forest squad, 96-77 in the semifinals of the Gildan Charleston Classic.

Senior Josh Hart led the way for Villanova, as he is wont to do. Hart finished the game with a career-high 30 points for the ‘Cats, 20 of which came in the first half. Mikal Bridges (19), Kris Jenkins (16), Donte DiVincenzo (12) and Jalen Brunson (11) also finished in double figures for Wright’s squad.

The Demon Deacons fought valiantly, cutting the lead to 12 at 87-75 with just under four minutes to play, but the ‘Cats proved too much. ‘Nova slammed the door shut, accentuated with a Brunson one-handed hammer with to spark an 9-2 run to stretch the lead back out to 96-77 where it would finish.

Wake Forest finished with six players in double figures but lacked the ability to respond once the ‘Cats put the pedal down.

Villanova was playing with out the services of junior Phil Booth, who missed the game with left knee tendonitis.


Three takeaways from the contest:

Josh Hart has a career at the next level

Hart was nothing short of spectacular today for the Wildcats. A preseason All-American, Hart dropped 30 points on an 11-14 mark from the field and 6-8 from deep. He showed the ability to score in a variety of ways, getting to the rim at will and light it up from beyond the arc. Hart is also a capable defender and one of the best rebounding guards in the country. While he may never be a star in the NBA, I imagine Hart will have a very long, very successful career at the next level.

Wake will cause teams fits in ACC play

Danny Manning’s Demon Deacons were impressive today despite the lopsided score. Six players in double figures is not small feat and Wake shot the ball well all afternoon. Forward John Collins led the way with 17 points for Wake and showed a number of offensive skills. Austin Arians is a dangerous catch-and-shoot threat and finished the game with 11 points on 4-9 shooting, and big man Dinos Mitoglou demonstrated a still budding offensive game in the post. Manning’s team will not be an easy out for those hoping they could roll past the Deacs in conference play.

Jay Wright knows how to coach

Well, duh.

The national championship should’ve been a dead giveaway here. But Wright’s team was sloppy and sluggish in Thursday’s 76-65 win over Western Michigan, and a Booth injury could well have been an excuse for a slip on Friday against a scrappy Wake squad. Instead, the ‘Cats responded with their best offensive performance of the year led by some of the same players who struggled against the Broncos.

So yeah, Wright seems to have this coaching thing figured out all right.