Villanova will be looking for its third consecutive victory when it visits DePaul for a Big East Conference game on Wednesday.
The No. 12-ranked Wildcats (19-6, 8-4) defeated Big 5 city rival Temple on Sunday 76-56. The victory secured an outright Big 5 title, their sixth in the last seven seasons in the annual battle between Philadelphia schools.
Junior Collin Gillespie led the way with 29 points as Villanova erased a four-point halftime deficit before exploding for the win in the final 20 minutes with 50 points.
Villanova drained 13 shots from beyond the arc in the second half and 17 overall on their way to the victory. The Wildcats were 18 of 32 (56.3 percent) overall from the field in the second half alone.
In their six losses this season, Villanova’s efficiency from 3-point range had been missing.
“We’re always searching for threes,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “Certain teams take that away, and it does open up other things. It’s one of the things we haven’t been great at as a young team this year — recognizing that all the time. I thought we did a really good job Sunday mixing it up. It’s just reading what the defense is taking away. That takes time. We’re getting better at that.”
Despite not featuring one scholarship senior, the Wildcats continue to grind out wins, usually thanks to their suffocating defense. Temple shot just 36.7 percent from the field and managed only 56 points.
“Some of the defensive keys were just helping our man out on the ball,” Wildcats guard Jermaine Samuels said. “(Quinton) Rose and (Nate) Pierre-Louis are great isolation players (for Temple). Having support behind the man guarding the ball is the biggest key for us. And then focus on the rebounds.”
DePaul will hope to avoid an eighth consecutive defeat on Wednesday when they face the Wildcats. The Blue Demons’ most recent defeat was a 93-64 decision at Creighton on Saturday.
Charlie Moore scored 20 points for DePaul, Romeo Weems added 12 and Darious Hall had 11, but the Blue Demons trailed by 14 at halftime and were pummeled by 29.
Moore reached the 20-point mark for the ninth time this season and the 13th of his career.
Paul Reed, who entered the game averaging a double-double, managed only three points and three rebounds. Still, Reed has compiled 15 double-doubles this season.
DePaul is now 13-12 overall and a disappointing 1-11 in the Big East.
The Blue Demons have nearly dropped to .500 overall after such a promising start this season.
“Tale of two teams,” DePaul head coach Dave Leitao said. “One was playing aggressively and the other one was not. There wasn’t the amount of energy we needed collectively, and as a result, there was no level of offensive or defensive execution.”
On Jan. 14, DePaul pushed Villanova to overtime before losing 79-75. The Blue Demons managed to erase an 11-point deficit in the final two minutes to earn the extra period.
This game will be in Chicago, where DePaul is just 9-6 at home and hasn’t been victorious there since ousting Butler 79-66 on Jan. 18.
“I’ve said it before, you got to act the same way through prosperity as you do through adversity,” Leitao said. “We haven’t learned that yet.”
–Field Level Media