VILLANOVA, PA. 11/17/2015 – The #11 Villanova Wildcats improved to 2 – 0 this season defeating the Nebraska Cornhuskers 87 – 63 at the Pavilion in the inaugural Dave Gavitt Tipoff Games featuring teams from the Big East against the Big Ten.
The Wildcats fell behind in the first half when the Huskers scored 7 straight to take a 23 – 16 lead with 7:42 on the clock. Seven plus minutes later it was different as Villanova ran off 22 straight points before giving up a bucket to make the score 38 – 25 at halftime. Daniel Ochefu keyed the charge with 6 close-in points during that span.
“Other teams know that when we have a big guy inside, that’s another threat,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright about the inside presence of Ochefu. “It is valuable to have that. And the best thing about that is Daniel passes the ball. You are not worried about the ball going in there and nobody gets it. He is a great passer and a very unselfish player in the post.”
Ochefu posted his tenth career double-double scoring 17 points and added 10 rebounds while blocking 3 shots.
In the second half the Wildcats would not allow the Huskers to get back into the game increasing the lead to as many as 30 points.
Defensively, Villanova forced 22 Nebraska turnovers which led to a 33 – 10 advantage in points off turnovers. More importantly, it got the Cats into a flow that helped them on the offensive end of the floor.
“When they took the lead we got great plays by Arch (Ryan Arcidiacono) and Mikal Bridges, we got steals, and we got some easy buckets, and then the threes started going,” Wright said.
Josh Hart led the Wildcats scoring 19 points and added 4 steals. Hart made 3 of 7 shots from beyond the arc. He is a starter this season. The 6th Man of the Year in the Big East last season sees little difference in starting.
“It’s nice, but at the end of the day it’s basketball, out the ball in the hole, it’s basketball,” said Hart.
Arcidiacono scored 15 points and dished out 4 assists. Phil Booth added 11 points.
For Nebraska Andrew White III had a team-best 18 points. Shavon Shields and Glynn Watson, Jr. each hit for 12 points.
Villanova continues their season-opening home stand as the host East Tennessee State on Friday in the National Invitation Tournament before hosting Akron on Sunday at the Pavilion where they have won 28 consecutive games.
Written By: Glenn Papazian