- Ben Hall
#3 Villanova handles Seton Hall on the road for 9th straight win
On Saturday, Villanova traveled to Seton Hall and dominated the Pirates throughout the majority of the game. This was the second time these two teams face off in the past 11 days.
Early on in the game, Justin Moore was hitting a ton of big shots for the Wildcats. In the first half, he scored 11 points including three three-pointers. It seemed like whenever Villanova got him the ball, Moore was ready to score. Every time the Pirates cut the lead, Moore was hitting a big shot to extend the lead back to double-digits.
When asked about Justin Moore's success beyond the arc, Jay Wright said that he actually had a really bad sprained thumb for a while which really affected his shooting. A few days ago at practice was the first time his shot had seemed back to normal like it was today. Wright also said that Moore's success played a major role in the Wildcats win.
"I think we saw him healthy and it was really important for us, especially in the first half," Wright said.
As the game went on, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl took the game over on both ends of the court and he did that in limited time. He scored 23 points in just 21 minutes. With 16:24 left in the game, Robinson-Earl picked up his fourth foul which forced him to sit for a majority of the second half. The presence that Robinson-Earl has on the defensive end is clear and it could've helped to have him on the court longer.
"I was thinking about putting him back in every time they scored," Wright said. "Honestly, I would just look out of the corner of my eye. He scored 23 points, but he is so good defensively. He is the centerpiece of our defense. He can guard any position and he also communicates out there, he's always talking. So, that's what we really missed while he was out."
Jermaine Samuels had a strong second half for the Wildcats, especially with the absence of Robinson-Earl. He scored 15 points in the second half alone and also played stellar defense as a big. In the postgame, he said being his size playing with aggression is really important when guarding some of those bigger guys like Sandro Mamukelashvili.
The main story story of the game was Seton Hall not being able to get the lead under eight points. Every time they went on a run, Villanova responded with their own run to get the lead right back up. Later in the game, especially when Robinson-Earl was out, the Pirates couldn’t capitalize off Wildcats missed shots.
The Wildcats were able to make free throws down the stretch and won by a score of 80-72. Over the years, the Wildcats games against Seton Hall have usually been close, so it was a bit of a different outcome today. Jay Wright acknowledged that and also credited Kevin Willard calling him a "great coach" and saying they know what we do. That was in response to being asked about Seton Hall limiting Collin Gillespie, who scored 11 points, but credited the way Gillespie handled it. Gillespie also had 11 assists.
"If you're not a smart player like Collin is and you start forcing things, that makes a difference in the game," Wright said. "But instead, he just got shots for everybody else and controlled the tempo of the game. They pressured him the whole game. We tried to keep him fresh but I think we played him too many minutes again, we got to get better at that. But he was outstanding."