Those who watched Villanova struggle against No. 6 Oklahoma in Hawaii last week remembered the statistic "4 for 32" more than the final score of the game. But Jay Wright said poor three-point shooting wasn't the worst thing about that night.
Wright felt his team was deficient in taking care of the little things. The ninth-ranked Wildcats made sure the little things were handled better Sunday, when they put together a fine all-around game of shooting, passing, and defense in a 76-47 romp over La Salle at the Pavilion for their 12th straight Big Five win.
The Wildcats (8-1, 2-0 Big Five) shot 13 of 28 from three-point range; connected on 55 percent of their field-goal attempts overall; dished out 24 assists on 28 field goals; and limited the Explorers' Jordan Price, the No. 3 scorer in the nation with a 25.9-point average coming in, to a hard-earned 16 points on 6-for-17 shooting.
Wright said the performance was the result of lessons learned in the Cats' 78-55 loss last Monday at Pearl Harbor.
"I know everybody sees 4 for 32 [on three-pointers], but believe it or not, that was the least of it," the Villanova coach said. "It was really all the other little things that we didn't do to make up for shooting 4 for 32. Maybe we don't win that game shooting 4 for 32, but we're right in it to the end if we do the little things, and we didn't do any little things in that game.
"I think our guys learned a lesson from that, and I thought we did a much better job with attention to detail in our scouting report, boxing out on rebounds, making the extra pass. A lot of little things we did a better job of tonight."
La Salle coach John Giannini had a feeling the Wildcats were going to come out focused and determined to bounce back.
"I was sick when I saw them lose that game," he said. "Really good teams, veteran tough teams, rarely lose back-to-back games. Our good teams didn't lose back-to-back games often, and I knew that that loss made our game much more difficult."
The Explorers (4-4, 0-2) watched their opponents keep their foot on the gas for the first 32 minutes of the game. Villanova shot 56 percent in the first half with 13 assists on 14 field goals and methodically built a 38-23 lead at the break.
The Wildcats began the second half on a 15-4 tear in the opening five minutes to increase their advantage to 53-27. Their largest margin of the game, 71-34, came on Mikal Bridges' three-point basket with 7 minutes, 45 seconds to play.
"We didn't really play the way we usually play out in Hawaii," said guard Ryan Arcidiacono, who made all five of his shots from the floor, scored 14 points, and handed out seven assists. "Getting back here, we had a couple of great practices this week just getting back to what we do."
Josh Hart led five players in double figures with 18 points and combined with Phil Booth for tough defensive play against Price.
Giannini said he hoped his team learned two things from Villanova in the game - the value of good individual defense and making the extra pass.
"If we can be better individual defenders and pass the ball a little bit better, that would make us a much better team," he said. "I think when you don't succeed, you'd better learn something."