No. 6 Villanova suffers through a historically bad scoring day and is routed 57-36 by No. 2 Baylor
The 36 points scored by the Wildcats were the fewest of Jay Wright's tenure and tied for the fewest in the shot-clock era which began in the 1985-86 season. The Cats shot just 22.2%
WACO, Texas – It was supposed to be a marquee matchup of two of the nation’s top programs, but Villanova didn’t perform to its billing. The Wildcats were unable to do much of anything on offense Sunday against defending national champion Baylor in front of a national television audience.
Fueled by a deafening sellout crowd of 10,284 at Ferrell Center and a group of long, athletic, and physical Bears, the sixth-ranked Wildcats were totally suffocated at the offensive end and lost, 57-36, which is the fewest number of points scored by a Jay Wright team in this, his 21st season as head coach.
ESPN Stats & Info reported that the 36 points tied for the fewest in the men’s college basketball shot-clock era, which began in the 1985-86 season. In addition, the last time Villanova scored that few points was on Feb. 4, 1979, a 36-34 win over Penn State.
Baylor (9-0), which is expected to climb to No. 1 in the Associated Press top 25 when the new poll is released Monday, jumped on Villanova (7-3) from the opening tip and never relented. Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore were the objects of their defensive attention, and neither of the Cats’ two top scorers was ever able to get into a rhythm.
For the game, Villanova shot just 22.2%, going 6-of-27 from both two-point and three-point range.
The Wildcats trailed 25-15 at the half and were able to get the deficit under 10 only twice in the second half, the last time on Caleb Daniels’ three-pointer that made it 31-22 with 13 minutes, 22 seconds left to play. But ‘Nova would not score again for another 5:34 when Baylor was up 18, and any hope for a comeback was gone.
Not that there was much reason for hope much of the day.
The Bears have incredible size and length — a starting lineup that goes 6-foot-8, 6-9 and 6-10 up front and two reserves who are 6-8 and 6-9. Wright appreciates the way they can guard the perimeter as well as inside the arc. He named the three who impressed him in particular — 6-8 Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, 6-9 Matthew Mayer, and 6-10 Flo Thamba.
“Those guys can get out, and then they add the two young guys, [Kendall] Brown and [Jeremy] Sochan, that can get out and guard guards on the perimeter,” Wright said. “Then you put them around the basket and they’re 6-9, so they’re guarding Eric Dixon inside and Collin and Justin on the perimeter.
“That’s a really tough defensive team right there. They did a great job. And they’re physical – they’re not just long but they’re really physical.”
It got to the point where the Wildcats would have a narrow window to shoot but were reluctant to do so because they never knew who was coming at them and from where. Shots that they normally drain were missing by quite a bit, and there were enough air balls to share among all of them, including Gillespie.
Stopping the scorers
The strategy with Gillespie was obvious: Don’t give him any open looks and try to disrupt him from distributing. The Cats’ top scorer, with a 17.3-point average, he had taken only one shot in the first 17 minutes before knocking down a pair of threes in the final three minutes to make the halftime score look presentable.
“We lost him twice and he got two threes,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said, “and that was a reminder going into halftime just how important he is.”
Gillespie didn’t score in the second half and finished 2-of-7, all from deep. Moore led the Wildcats with 15 points, going 5-of-14 and 2-of-6 from three. Each had one of the Cats’ five assists.
“It was tough on Collin and Justin; they just did a great job loading up on them and then recovering,” Wright said. “There’s a balance between those guys, still trying to be aggressive, trying to beat two guys sometimes and then finding their teammates. I thought they did a good job finding their teammates but we just couldn’t make shots.”
The crowd was LOUD
The sellout crowd warmed up with a standing ovation for veteran broadcaster Dick Vitale, who is fighting cancer, after he was presented with a Baylor jersey before the game. Then they just got louder and louder with each Villanova miscue or badly missed shot, especially the “Air Ball!” chant.
“A great college basketball atmosphere, our first time down here, a great venue, loud, fun to be a part of it,” Wright said. “Baylor’s an outstanding defensive team, as physical, tough, and quick as anybody we’ve played against.”
Drew said: “Fans always make a difference. When they come and they’re loud, they affect it. So that really helped with the defensive intensity for sure.”
Villanova held Baylor to 39.3% shooting, well below its 48.3% mark through its first eight games, and 6-of-24 from three-point territory. Senior guard James Akinjo, who played against the Wildcats when he was a freshman at Georgetown, had 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists.