The Wildcats and Hoyas played a tight first half that certainly favored upset-minded Georgetown. However, Villanova countered with solid defense and their trifecta of shooters.
This was the first time that Villanova defeated Georgetown at the Big East Tournament in their six meetings. Three big reasons why were Ryan Arcidiacono, Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins. They were fantastic for the Wildcats, especially in the second half. Behind their solid play, Nova was able to pull away in the second half and finish off a three-game sweep of the Hoyas this season.
Arcidiacono, Hart and Jenkins combined to score 59 points on 17-33 shooting from the field in the victory. Nova finished the game shooting 48 percent after Head Coach Jay Wright said their three-point shooting kept them in the game early in the first half. It also carried them to the victory once again along with playing a smaller lineup due to Daniel Ochefu’s limited ability with an ankle injury he is fighting through.
The Wildcats shot 13-21 from downtown and went on a 14-1 run when the Hoyas were up by five points in the second half to take control. They continue to march on and will play in the semifinals for the second straight year at MSG.
For Georgetown, L.J. Peak led the way with 18 points and played well during the conference tournament. The Hoyas struggled to keep Villanova off the free throw line as well in the second half. After both teams did not go to the line at all in the first half, Nova made 20-25 from the line and the Hoyas knocked down just 7-12.
Here are three things we learned from this one.
3 Things We Learned:
1) It is going to take a lot to upset Villanova, they keep moving forward
Arcidiacono, Hart, Jenkins and the crew look like they are men on a mission to right the wrongs of last season in the NCAA Tournament. In the second half, they blew the Hoyas away with great defense and hit Georgetown quickly with those big runs. They played like a Final Four team during the last 20 minutes.
"We concentrate on enjoying this moment. We don’t care about the seeding" Nova head coach Jay Wright said. "There is a lot of pressure on the outside of this team to get to the second weekend. If we don’t get there it is not going to kill us. We would be disappointed. We are playing to get there and that is great."
Wright wants the Big East to get a team to the Final Four almost as much as he wants that team to be Villanova. He wants to make sure it happens this season.
"We let down the Big East last year. We were a good enough team to advance and we did not" Wright said. "I would like to get to the Final Four for the Big East not just for these guys. If we don’t do it, I would love Xavier, Providence, Butler, or Seton Hall to do it, I really would."
Nova is looking to repeat and they made it known today that it is going to take a big time effort for 40 minutes in order to dethrone the Wildcats.
2) Hoyas went through a lot, but unachieved this season
A frustrating and tough season for the Hoyas likely came to close at MSG on Thursday. Injuries to players like Paul White, Bradley Hayes and others hindered the team this season. Now they must decide whether or not they will play any postseason basketball.
"I am not sure yet, we are not used to being here" Georgetown head coach John Thompson III said.
At the press conference, Thompson III sat with seniors Hayes and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. The coach delivered a heart-felt speech on both of them after the media finished asking questions.
"They have given of themselves to this program and one of hard things is to get to this point and you realize that it is finite, it comes to an end" JTIII said. "[Hayes] sitting to my left who has had a crazy career, but he is someone who came to work every single day. All he cares about is Georgetown University."
JTII also talked about DSR who finishes his career as one of top scorers in the school’s history.
"You start talking about Georgetown greats and he has quietly put himself up with those guys. He is a competitor and wants to win" JTIII said. "[Smith-Rivera] is built to score, he is a natural scorer. He had to sacrifice to bring younger kids along and that is big."
We will likely not see more from those Hoyas and the program this season. They now look to build on the young talents they have and come back stronger next year.
"You feel bad as a coach and you wish it could end differently for these guys because of what they have given to Georgetown" JTIII said.
3) Kris "Big Smooth" Jenkins has emerged for the Wildcats at the perfect time
Villanova’s Daniel Ochefu tweaked his ankle and played just 13 minutes in the game today. With him resting it down the stretch, Nova was able to keep rolling thanks to Jenkins who finished with 15 points and three made shots from deep. The Wildcats played small for the most of the game, which they were going to do anyway according to Wright.
Hart also continues to improve and Wright believes he can get even better. After the game, Hart said he loves playing at MSG, but hates something you may not have expected.
"As players, we love [the Big East Tournament]. We grew up watching it and grew up playing in it. It is humbling and surreal" Hart said. "I hate New York, but I love playing in the tournament."
Yes, Hart hates the city of New York, but Wright came to his defense in a funny way as he left the press conference.
"He didn’t really mean it, that he hates New York" Wright said.
If Villanova continues to roll, wins another Big East Tournament title and plays in Brooklyn during the NCAA Tournament, Hart will have to play in New York for a few more weeks. However, winning cures everything and Hart should come to like NYC if Nova reaches their goals in the five boroughs."