Villanova Wins the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament | Eric Dixon Wins MVP
Written by David Szczepanski on November 26, 2023
After dominating in the game against Maryland, Villanova wins the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas. With the tournament win, Villanova should climb their way back into the Top 25 this week. The Wildcats defeated Texas Tech, #14 North Carolina, and Memphis on their road to the trophy. Eric Dixon was named the tournament MVP. It’s the third time that Villanova has won the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. They last won this tournament in 2017.
Villanova vs. Texas Tech
In their first game of the tournament, Villanova took care of business against Texas Tech. The Wildcats shot 43% from the field and 37.5% from three in route to the 85-69 victory over the Red Raiders. Eric Dixon was 6-13 from the field for 19 points with six rebounds. Justin Moore had 18 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Jordan Longino had a good game for Villanova off the bench with nine points and five rebounds.
Texas Tech shot 41% from the field and 39% from three, but they struggled to get the same bench production as Villanova. Pop Isaacs led Texas Tech with 16 points. Joe Toussaint and Devan Cambridge also scored double digits for the Red Raiders. Texas Tech was just 13-22 from the charity stripe while Villanova made 26-32 shots from the free throw line. The Red Raiders were also outrebounded by Villanova and turned the ball over fifteen times.
Villanova vs. #14 North Carolina: Eric Dixon scores a career-high 34 points
Villanova did not have an easy task in the second round of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament against #14 North Carolina. In a very similar game to the 2016 NCAA Championship, the Wildcats defeated UNC, 83-81, in overtime. The Thanksgiving Day Battle between these two blue bloods provided a continuation of the Eric Dixon show from Wednesday afternoon against Texas Tech. Dixon finished with a double-double after he scored a career-high 34 points with 10 rebounds. After struggling in the first half, Justin Moore came alive late to finish with 16 points on 5-11 shooting from the field. Mark Armstrong was just 2-9 from the field, but he made the game-winning basket in overtime and finished with 10 points.
As a team, Villanova shot 38% from the field and just 22.7% from three. The Wildcats only made five threes against North Carolina. Dixon made three of them. Villanova went to the line 36 times and made 32 shots. North Carolina was just 16 for 23 (69.6%) from the charity stripe.
North Carolina led at halftime, but some foul troubles in the second half created trouble for the Tar Heels in overtime. UNC’s leading scorer at the end of the game was RJ Davis. Davis finished with 23 points on 8-22 shooting from the field. Harrison Ingram was 6-8 from the field and 4-5 from three, but he fouled out late in the game, which proved costly for North Carolina. Two other players also fouled out for the Tar Heels. Armando Bacot grabbed 18 rebounds for UNC to give them the rebounding advantage, 43-38, against Villanova. However, the Wildcats beat the Tar Heels where it mattered: in the points column.
This was the biggest win of the season for Villanova and perhaps the biggest win of the Kyle Neptune era for the Wildcats. Villanova showed their resiliency, especially in a game where Eric Dixon provided the only offense for Villanova in the first 20-25 minutes of the game. The Wildcats’ defense was able to hold off some long runs by the Tar Heels to take advantage at the end of the game.
Villanova vs. Memphis: The Championship
After the win against tough North Carolina, the Wildcats now faced a Friday afternoon matchup against Memphis for the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship. Villanova never trailed against Memphis and defeated the Tigers, 79-63. The Wildcats shot 44% from the field and 42% from behind the arc in the first half. Villanova took a 44-16 lead into halftime. They limited the Tigers to just 4-27 from the field. The Tigers also only made 1 of their 12 three-point attempts in the first twenty minutes.
Memphis went on a 21-0 run in the second half and outscored Villanova in the final twenty minutes, 47-35, but the Wildcats held onto the lead to win the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. The Wildcats had balanced scoring from their entire starting lineup. All five starters had at least double-digit points. Tyler Burton finished with 11 points, nine rebounds, and two assists. The Wildcats finished by shooting 42.6% from the field and 37.1% (13-35) from three. Villanova found some offensive consistency, especially from behind the arc, in this tournament.
Eric Dixon scored 11 points with eight rebounds in the championship game to win Battle 4 Atlantis MVP. When asked about his team’s performance, Coach Neptune said, “I thought we had a great tournament. I thought we got a lot better, but I still think we can get a lot better. Really proud of this team.”
The Road Ahead for Villanova
The Wildcats are now 6-1 overall. Villanova’s next game will take place on November 29th at 6:30pm against Saint Joseph’s. It will be the Wildcats second Big 5 matchup of the season and it will be their last before the Big 5 Classic at the Wells Fargo Center on December 2nd. WXVU will have live coverage of this Wednesday’s game against Saint Joseph’s and the Philly Big 5 Classic on Saturday. Stephen Cain and I will discuss the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament win and the game against Saint Joseph’s on Thursday’s live episode of “Villanova Sports Talk” at 12pm on WXVU.