Villanova falls to No. 8 Virginia
Eighth-ranked Virginia couldn't miss from three-point range in the second half in an 86-75 victory over the Wildcats.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The second nonconference game that Villanova played this month against a top-10 team resulted in a second defeat for the Wildcats.
Before a sellout crowd of 14,593 at John Paul Jones Arena, the 12th-ranked Wildcats shot the ball decently from three-point range Saturday but could not stop Virginia's torrid shooting from deep in the second half and fell, 86-75, to the eighth-ranked Cavaliers.
Villanova's performance was an improvement over its 78-55 loss on Dec. 7 to then-No. 7 Oklahoma that saw the Wildcats hit just 4 of 32 three-point attempts. The Cats (8-2) were 10 of 26 (38.5 percent) against the Cavaliers (9-1) and shot just under 50 percent from the field.
Rebounding, however, continues to be a problem for Villanova, which was thumped, 31-19, by Virginia and grabbed just nine defensive rebounds.
"I think it's going to be a process," coach Jay Wright said. "I think it's going to be a problem with this team. We've got to fix it, but we've got to rebound as a team. It's definitely been an issue for us all year."
The Cavaliers made almost everything they looked at from beyond the arc in the second half, going 7 of 10. They knocked down a trio of threes during a 14-0 run that gave them control of the game at 55-43 with 9 minutes, 11 seconds left to play.
Then, when the Wildcats tried to make a comeback - as they did when they cut the deficit to three, 65-62, on Kris Jenkins' fifth three-point basket of the game with 4:30 remaining - Virginia provided a long-range answer.
Guard London Perrantes, a 53-percent three-point shooter entering the game, connected from beyond the arc on back-to-back possessions after Jenkins' shot. Senior Malcolm Brogdon, who did a little of everything (20 points, seven rebounds, six assists), provided his team's final trey for a 76-66 lead with 1:52 left.
"In the second half, Brogdon started driving the ball, and we couldn't contain him," Wright said. "So we started leaving shooters to help. There's a way you can leave shooters and help and still get back to the shooter. Every time we were overaggressive on leaving shooters, he found them."
The Wildcats still had some life in the final minute, closing to 79-75 on Jalen Brunson's three-pointer, but did not score after that.
Jenkins scored a career-high 23 points for the Wildcats. Wright said he felt Jenkins made better decisions on the floor.
"It's just being more aggressive and realizing that I can make plays for everyone, not just myself," Jenkins said. "My teammates did a great job of catching and shooting and making plays. We're getting better. That's all we can ask for, is that we're going to continue to get better."
Playing in a hostile environment against the Cavaliers, whose "attention to detail and execution is just on another level from ours right now," according to Wright, can only help the Cats when the Big East schedule starts Dec. 31. But there's work to be done.
"It's not like I look at it and say, 'Wow, we've got major problems,' " the coach said. "We've got to rebound better as a team. We've got to defend better as a team. We've got to make better decisions offensively. But I think we can do that, I really do."