December 6, 2020 –
It was the first true road game for the #12 Villanova Wildcats. They have yet to play at home, but this was a game on the home floor of the opponent. The Wildcats bring home a hard fought 68 – 64 win over the 17th ranked Texas Longhorns in the Big East / Big Twelve Challenge, and handed the Longhorns their first loss of the season. It was a win that required toughness and what Coach Jay Wright calls those little things, and they got them from forwards Jermaine Samuels and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. The front court was the key as they played a big Texas team. Samuels and Robinson-Earl stepped up to the challenge and led the team.
“It goes unnoticed,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “Jermaine Samuels, a couple of his offensive rebounds were huge, but him being able to battle in there, going against some great athletes. To have a sprained finger and come up with 12 rebounds is courageous.”
Despite playing with a sprained pinkie, the senior scored 8 points and had a game and season high in rebounds. Samuels added 4 offensive boards, 3 assists, and a steal. He did not practice all week, but was ready to play.
“I wanted to do whatever it took for my team to succeed,” Samuels said. “Finger hurt or not there was going to be no excuses to play Villanova basketball for my teammates.”
Robinson-Earl scored 19 points and had 8 rebounds, 3 off the offensive glass to go along with 2 assists. The Wildcats outrebounded the Longhorns 34 – 33 which was an important factor.
“It was one of our main emphases,” said Robinson-Earl about the rebounding effort. “They are a big team and we’re not as big, but we’re long. It was a whole team effort, boxing, and pursuing rebounds. so it’s a team-effort. Jermaine had 12 rebounds and he is going after the play hard.”
The forwards got those little things done.
“Just the little things like kicking the ball out on offensive rebounds, making good decisions when they got the ball in the post,” Wright said. “Both of them (Samuels and Robinson-Earl) had great games against a deep and talented front court of Texas.”
Sophomore guard Justin Moore had a season-high 19 points for the Wildcats as he provided the early scoring, 10 in the first half. Collin Gillespie scored 12 points and handed out 3 assists.
The game was a game of runs. Texas tied the game at 57 before Forward Cole Swider drained a three-pointer with just under 2 minutes to start the last run for Nova. Robinson-Earl got the next basket . The Longhorns pulled to within two on a three-ball by Courtney Ramey, who contributed a team-high tying 17 points. Samuels answered, Texas cut it to 2, then Gillespie ended it with 2 free throws.
Matt Coleman III added 17 points for the host Longhorns.
Villanova (4 – 1) opens the conference schedule on Friday at Georgetown. The game will be played at McDonough Arena on the Hoyas campus.
Written By: Glenn Papazian