We knew the Villanova Wildcats would have a hard time repeating last year’s success.
We knew the Villanova Wildcats’ illustrious back-to-back games without a loss streak would eventually end.
We knew the Villanova Wildcats were vulnerable this year, especially after the thrashing they received from the Michigan Wolverines in the Gavitt Games.
What we did not know, however, was that Villanova would suffer a 76-68 defeat at the hands of... the Furman Paladins? Many say college basketball is where the unexpected becomes the ordinary, but this was absurd.
The Paladins didn’t just go on a late run, either. They led or were tied with the reigning defending national champions for 23:37 of the game’s 45 minutes.
The most unlikely part of the upset? Only six players scored for Furman! Of the six, five had at least 13 points, led by Jordan Lyons’ 17. Villanova had no answer for Matt Rafferty, who had 15 points and 17 rebounds to go along with four blocks in 43 minutes of action.
The Wildcats ran into trouble when no one other than Phil Booth (20 points on 23 shots) or Collin Gillespie (19 points) could score. Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree’s effort was also worthy of praise. He had just six points, but hauled in 11 rebounds and blocked five shots. Villanova also attempted 44 three-pointers in the loss. While shooting a ton of threes worked for the Wildcats last year, that was last year. The four players who went to the NBA were Nova’s four best shooters, and Jay Wright is going to need to come up with a new plan for when the threes aren’t falling. It’s early, and Wright has earned the benefit of the doubt after the past few years, but his rotations have been odd through the first four games of the year. Five-star freshman Jahvon Quinerly didn’t even see the court in Saturday’s overtime loss.
Villanova is now 2-2 on the year. They haven’t been .500 since December 5, 2012, when they lost to Temple to fall to 4-4 on the season. The Wildcats should be able to get things turned around next week in Orlando, but they need to figure it out quickly.