Villanova Advances With An 84 – 61 Win in the Second Round
March 21, 2021 –
The Villanova Wildcats advance to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament for the fifth time since 2008. The Wildcats defeated the 13th seeded Mean Green of North Texas 81 – 64 in this topsy-turvy tournament. Villanova plays Baylor, the South Region top-seed next. Four Nova players scored in double figures led by forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl who filled the stat sheet with a team-high 18 points while adding 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
North Texas got to the second round by upsetting Purdue, the number 4 seed, and wanted to continue the trend of wins by the lower seeds. But Villanova turned up the defense, and the three-pointers began to fall. With just over eleven and a half minutes remaining in the first half Javion Hamlet, who scored a game-high 25 points, put the Mean Green in front 21 – 13. That would be the last points scored for the team in nearly five minutes. Villanova closed the half on a 34 – 6 run and took a 47 – 27 lead into halftime, the season-high number of points scored in the first half for the Wildcats. From beyond the arc the Cats made 9 of 15 in the opening twenty minutes, and six different players drained a three-pointer, and turned the ball over once. But it all started on the defensive end of the floor.
“I really thought getting Bryan Antoine, Cole Swider, and Chris Arcidiacono coming back in, those three gave us great energy defensively and changed the game,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “Because we got stops, we got out in transition, got some easy baskets, some easy threes. I thought those three coming into the game made a big difference and got us on the run.”
In the second half two more Wildcats made a three-pointer. Eight players with at least one made three is the most by any team in NCAA Tournament history.
For the game Villanova 15 of 30 from distance and 31 of 56 overall (55.4%). Jermaine Samuels and Justin Moore contributed 15 points each. Moore handed out 5 assists. Samuels dished 4 assists and grabbed 9 rebounds. Caleb Daniels scored 11 points and sank a game-high tying 3 from distance. This is the best shooting game for the Cats in over a month.
“It felt great,” said Samuels about the offensive execution. “I was more excited about playing Villanova basketball, just proving it to each other on the defensive end, making extra plays for each other, making extra passes. Shots are always nice, but it’s just the togetherness on the floor is more than making shots.”
The Wildcats had 19 assists on 31 made field goals.
Mardez McBride contributed 11 points while James Reese put in 10 for North Texas who made 21 of 52 and 8 of 26 three-point shots. Hamlet converted half of his field goal attempts (8 of 16) and made 7 of 8 from the free throw line.
The name of the game is advance. Baylor represents a big challenge. Villanova will prepare get ready to play on Saturday at the Hinkle Field House, 5:15 tipoff.
“They’ve been one of the best teams in the country, them and Gonzaga, all year,” Wright said. “So we’ll get to play the best. And that’s why you play in the NCAA Tournament. You look forward to these types of games.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian