Villanova sweeps DePaul at the Finn ahead of a tough stretch in their schedule | Villanova vs. DePaul Recap
Written by David Szczepanski on January 14, 2024
Villanova sweeps DePaul with a dominating win, 94-69, at the Finn on Friday evening. The Wildcats improve to 11-5 overall and 4-1 in conference play. Eric Dixon scored 24 points while shooting 9-12 from the field. He was a +24 when on the court. Besides Dixon, Villanova also had four other players finish in double-digits: Tyler Burton, TJ Bamba, Mark Armstrong, and Brendan Hausen. The Wildcats did so many things right on Friday and it was a great win to regain confidence after a crushing loss to St. John’s.
As a team, Villanova converted 56% of their shots from the field and 40% from behind the arc. They won the rebounding battle, 33-24. The Wildcats did not have a turnover in the first half, and they only had four turnovers in total at the end of the game. Villanova also dominated the paint battle, 50-32. They scored 52 points in the final twenty minutes of play.
The Wildcats’ defense was not as good against DePaul as it was in Chicago on December 23rd, but the defense still did a good job. DePaul finished the game with nine turnovers and the Wildcats had six steals. The Blue Demons, who average 65 points per game, scored 69 points against Villanova while shooting 46.3% from the field. They converted 8 of 20 shots (40%) from three. Da’Sean Nelson led the Blue Demons with 20 points.
First Half: Brendan Hausen’s Great Three-Point Shooting
Justin Moore returned to the starting lineup for the first time since December 5th. He scored his first basket less than 90 seconds into the game. Moore did not have his best game by shooting just 1-6 from the field, but he grabbed two rebounds, three assists, and scored two points. He played 23 minutes in his return for a +13 when on the court. Eric Dixon also added to the scoring column for Villanova early. The Wildcats led the Blue Demons, 15-12, with 13:03 left in the first half.
Despite a talent disadvantage, DePaul managed to keep the game competitive for much of the first half. Da’Sean Nelson and Jalen Terry were knocking down shots for the Blue Demons. Terry, who is usually a defensive first player, was added into the starting lineup just prior to tipoff. Terry finished the evening with 12 points and five rebounds. Luckily for Villanova, they had an answer.
The answer was Brendan Hausen. Hausen knocked down five three-pointers in the first half for a total of 15 points. The combination of Hausen and Dixon extended Villanova’s lead to ten points heading into the locker room at halftime. Hausen led all scorers at the break and Dixon was a +15 on the court. Villanova played clean basketball in the first twenty minutes with ZERO turnovers. The Blue Demons converted 52% of their shots in the first half against the Wildcats as Villanova’s three-point defensive struggles continue.
Second Half: Wildcats score 52 points
The Wildcats kept their foot on the gas pedal in the second half. Eric Dixon continued his success offensively and defensively, including some impressive free-throw shooting. TJ Bamba and Mark Armstrong had excellent starts to the second half too. Tyler Burton, who has really struggled recently, scored a layup with 12:16 left in the game to give Villanova a convincing 62-43 lead. Burton took a lot of shots in this game, including 0-5 from behind the arc, but he still finished the game with a double-double and four assists.
Villanova would cruise the rest of the game against DePaul, and eventually defeat the Blue Demons, 94-69. The exclamation point was added by Mark Armstrong and Brendan Hausen dunks in the final 60 seconds of the second half. It was the first time this season that Villanova scored more than 90 points in a contest.
Player of the Game
The player of the game for Villanova was Eric Dixon. Dixon, who finished with 24 points, also accumulated six rebounds, one assist, and three steals. He made scoring in the paint look so easy against the Blue Demons.
To me, this was Villanova’s second-best complete game of the season after the win against North Carolina in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. Even though the Wildcats dominated the Blue Demons a few weeks ago, they still came prepared with a lot of energy to win this game convincingly. With the absence of Jordan Longino with a left knee sprain and Moore on somewhat of a minutes restriction in his first game back, the offense still found its rhythm and managed to not have any turnovers in the first half. Yes, this victory came against a struggling team in last place, but there were lots of encouraging signs by Villanova, and it gives them confidence heading into this tough stretch of games.
Villanova’s Road Ahead
Villanova battles #11 Marquette in Milwaukee, Wisconsin tomorrow afternoon at 2:30pm. This is the beginning of a tough stretch of games for the Wildcats that will also feature games against #4 UConn, St. John’s, Butler, and another matchup against Marquette.