Wildcats Start Strong in 82 – 42 Victory
January 16, 2022 –
On the court the Villanova Wildcats have found their stride and the winning streak is at six. Villanova easily defeated Butler 82 – 42 in front of 17,009 at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wildcats went off to a fast start behind a balanced offense and a becoming usual defense to earn win number 13 of the season.
“We have a lot of improvements still to make, and part of that is getting balance offensively,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “Eric’s (Dixon) is a big part of that to be able to get him going early. Early, they were taking Collin (Gillespie) and Justin (Moore) away. We were finding Eric and he was delivering. That’s big for us.”
Nova stormed out to a 22 – 6 lead midway through the first half with a wide distribution of scoring. On the inside Eric Dixon and Jermaine Samuels scored 12 points combined while the guard duo of Justin Moore and Collin Gillespie added the other 10 markers. Meanwhile Butler could only manage three field goals. The advantage at halftime grew to 39 – 23.
“They set the tone” said Butler Coach LaVall Jordan. “They stretch you out with Gillespie out there and Moore, guys you have to pay a lot of attention to. They play inside out and post you up at every position. You know that each and every time you face them.”
In the second half the Wildcats would squelch any hopes the Bulldogs would have scoring the first 9 points of the half within 5 minutes of play. The second half start was just as important to first half to the Wildcats.
“That’s important for us at home, making sure the energy level stays up for another twenty minutes, and get a full forty minutes,” said Gillespie. “We came out and making sure we were ready.”
For the game the Cats sank nearly 60% of their shots (28 of 47) and went 12 of 19 from deep. This game represented the highest shooting percentage total for Villanova exceeding the 56.6% shooting against Howard.
Meanwhile they limited the Bulldogs to 30.8% from the floor (16 of 52) and 7 of 26 from beyond the arc. The 42 points allowed was the second-lowest total given up by Nova this season, they surrendered 41 against Creighton, and second lowest shooting percentage against, 25.5% by La Salle. Over the past two games the defense has allowed 34 baskets on 107 attempts (31.7%).
Gillespie scored a team-high 17 points. Dixon was one-point shy of his career-high getting 14 points. His collegiate-best came in the previous game at Xavier. Dixon grabbed 5 rebounds, assisted 4 times, and did not turn the ball over. He is becoming more comfortable in his role in the Villanova offense.
“It’s like coach said, see the defense and make the right decision,” Dixon said. “Be physical every play, not do anything soft, and just be solid.”
Moore added 15 points, 7 rebounds, and a team-best 5 assists. Samuels contributed 14 points.
Chuck Harris led Butler scoring 15 points and Bryce Nze added 10 points. The Bulldogs fall to 9 – 7 overall and 2 – 3 in the league.
Villanova improves to 13 – 4 and lead the Big East with a 6 – 1 record. Nova faces Marquette on Wednesday.
Written By: Glenn Papazian