Rushed Reactions: #2 Villanova 73, #15 Milwaukee 53

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 20th, 2014

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Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCeastregion, @RTCMWregion,@RTCsouthregion and @RTCwestregion.

Three Key Takeaways.

Villanova will need to be better on Saturday in order to beat Connecticut.  (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

Villanova will need to be better on Saturday in order to beat Connecticut. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

  1. Villanova can’t shoot like this and expect to go anywhere. Three-point shooting is a big component of the Wildcats’ offense, and they were absolutely awful from behind the arc tonight. After starting an ice-cold 0-of-17, Villanova finished just 4-of-23 from distance. James Bell, the team’s most relied-upon shooter, went 0-of-8. It proved to be alright against Milwaukee, because the defense was stout – holding the Panthers to 28.6 percent shooting from the floor – but the Big East regular season champs will not get away with similar results against Connecticut on Saturday, especially with the Huskies’ strong interior defense.
  2. We didn’t learn much about the Wildcats. Following Villanova’s Big East tournament loss to Seton Hall last week, no one really knew what to make of the Wildcats heading into the Big Dance. Sure, they are a #2 seed and yes, they won 28 games this season, but nothing really jumps off the page about this team. Are they a Final Four contender or a flawed group susceptible to an early upset? Unfortunately, nothing about their ho-hum victory over the Panthers answered that question. They never looked dominant – their lead wasn’t blown open until the last five minutes – but they also never looked truly threatened. The jury’s still out on these guys.
  3. Can they contain Shabazz Napier in the same way they contained Jordan Aaron? Milwaukee guard Jordan Aaron is no Shabazz Napier, but he is a solid player who can create his own shot and score in bunches. Villanova shut him down tonight, limiting the senior to just six points on 1-of-15 shooting. Whatever blueprint they used against the Panthers’ best player, they might want to consider using against Napier this weekend as well.

Star of the GameJayVaughn Pinkston (13 points, eight rebounds). The slippery big man set the tone early in the second half, ripping off five quick points and giving Villanova the decisive lead it hadn’t been able to find in the first 20 minutes. He is very smooth in the paint and will need to have an impact against Connecticut, especially if the Wildcats’ shooting continues to falter.

Quotable. “That was a very well-coached team and a team we did not want to get behind on early. That was a tough game.” – Villanova head coach Jay Wright, on Milwaukee.

Sights & Sounds. Never underestimate the power of the underdog in an arena with non-partisan fans. It’s amazing how loud the cheers were when Milwaukee would go on small scoring runs or block a shot. The Syracuse and Connecticut crowds that stuck around for this one was fully prepared to get behind the Horizon League champs if they were going to make a game of it. That never fully came to fruition, though.

What’s Next? Villanova takes on Connecticut in an old Big East showdown that should make for a really good basketball game. Jay Wright got the best of Kevin Ollie in Storrs last season, but it will be on a much bigger stage on Saturday night. Both defenses are ranked within the top-20 in defensive efficiency, so expect some excellent play on that end.

Tommy Lemoine (88 Posts)


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