On Monday afternoon, the Villanova Wildcats were voted #1 in the AP and USA Today polls for the first time in program history.
Tuesday evening in Rosemont, Illinois, they showed just why they should be considered the best team in the country.
The Wildcats used a strong start to the second half to secure a 86-59 victory over the DePaul Blue Demons.
As they so often do, Villanova got double-digit scoring from five players: Josh Hart led the way with 18, Darryl Reynolds had 14, Kris Jenkins had 13, Daniel Ochefu had 11 in his first game back from a concussion, while Jalen Brunson, a Lincolnshire, Illinois native, also had 11 in his homecoming.
For DePaul, the story remained the same as it has been. They turned the ball over 20 times, and Villanova turned those turnovers into 19 points. Eli Cain led the way for the Blue Demons with 15 points on 5-10 shooting.
The Wildcats improved to 21-3, 11-1 with the victory, while DePaul fell to 8-16, 2-10.
Three things we learned
1. Daniel Ochefu or Darryl Reynolds?
As noted above, both Ochefu and Reynolds had strong games.
When Ochefu was out for the previous two games with a concussion, Reynolds stepped up in a big way, grabbing 13 rebounds against Creighton, and picking up a double-double (19 points and 10 rebounds) against Providence.
It appears that Reynolds' success had inspired some conference in the big man, as he continued to score well on Tuesday night. Both he and Ochefu led Villanova to a 36-16 advantage in points in the paint over the Blue Demons.
Around college basketball, there aren't a ton of big men that can score the ball. If Villanova can get this level of play out of both Reynolds and Ochefu for the remainder of the season, they will be playing deep into the postseason.
2. DePaul's inefficiency woes
DePaul shot 20-49 from the field as a team, which is a percentage of 40.8.
It's tough to pick up victories when you have shooting woes to that magnitude, but a lot of the issues stemmed from Villanova's punishing defense.
The Wildcats, going into tonight had the third best defense in the country per Ken Pomeroy, and it's easy to see why. DePaul was also limited to just eight second chance points, so Villanova did an excellent job limiting offensive rebounds (DePaul had eight).
3. Villanova's free throw shooting
Villanova shot 21-25 (84%) from the free throw line on Tuesday night.
This season, the Wildcats are 6th in the nation with a 76.9 FT%.
For a team that has had their struggles in the NCAA Tournament, sustained success from the free throw line is going to be vital going forward.
NCAA Tournament games are generally tight affairs throughout, so it's essential to make the most of trips to the line.
Villanova continued to show their knowledge of that fact on Tuesday night.