COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Villanova came face-to-face with one of basketball’s truisms Wednesday night: If you miss a large percentage of shots and your opponent makes a large percentage of shots, the result usually isn’t good.
That’s the way it went for the 10th-ranked Wildcats against No. 16 Ohio State in the opening 13 1/2 minutes of their 76-51 defeat at Value City Arena in a Gavitt Tipoff Games matchup. The Buckeyes made 14 of their first 20 shots to take a 36-10 lead while the Wildcats sank only 3 of their first 19.
That set the tone for the night and the Cats (1-1) spent the rest of the game going for little victories here and there. For the game, they shot 30.6% percent from the field as compared to 60% for the Buckeyes (3-0).
The Villanova defense spent much of the first half trying to locate, mostly unsuccessfully, the Ohio State shooters. The Buckeyes made six straight shots in the opening three minutes. In fact, at the first television timeout, they were on a 170-point pace. Villanova went on a 9-0 run to close the gap to 40-22 by halftime, but the early deficit proved to be too much to overcome.
A 4-of-21 shooting start meant it would not be a competitive second half. The Cats’ largest deficit was 30 points, and the Buckeyes ran two alley-oop dunks in the final minute to rub it in a little bit more.
Keys to the game
No one on Villanova could make a shot for long stretches. Looking at the starting lineup, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl went 3 of 11 and Saddiq Bey 1 of 8. Jermaine Samuels led the Cats with 14 points, 10 in the second half.
Ohio State pretty much scored at will, showing equal skill on three-point baskets (9 of 16) and inside (36 points in the paint). The Buckeyes found the cutters well enough to amass 18 assists on their 30 field goals. Five players scored in double figures led by Duane Washington Jr. with 14.
Villanova coach Jay Wright: “We didn’t do as good a job getting our guys ready and prepared. That’s something we’ve got to learn. We’ve got a lot of guys playing major minutes for the first time and that was a great lesson for them. I knew we’d have a lot to learn but I didn’t think we would be that far behind at this point. But it looks like we are. We’ve just got to stick together and go back to work.”
Guard Collin Gillespie: “We’ve just got to be more attentive to the little details. We’ve got to learn how to play harder for a full 40 minutes, just all little things that make a great team. We’ve got to prepare better, come to practice every day with an intensity and with a different energy.”
Villanova’s young players need some time to develop, mature and learn how to play together. Their oldest players are third-year juniors and the younger players must learn to play Wright’s way, meaning consistency of effort and communication on defense.
The Wildcats played the Buckeyes even on the boards, 35-35, but Ohio State was more physical led by 6-foot-9, 270-pound junior Kaleb Wesson. The Cats hope that by the time Big East play begins on Dec. 30, they can improve the physical nature of their play.
It hasn’t been a good two-year run in the Gavitt Tipoff Games for Villanova. The Wildcats lost last year, 73-46, to Michigan at Finneran Pavilion without four key players that helped them defeat the Wolverines in the 2018 national championship game. Wright isn’t afraid to throw his guys into the fire, but he knows there’s a lot of work to be done.