Villanova isn’t as talented as Kansas. In fact, Kansas will almost assuredly have a better season than Villanova. But, tonight in The Bahamas, Villanova was the better team — they were the tougher team.
Ryan Arcidiacono was nearly invisible for the entire game, but in the final minute he drilled the biggest shot of his young career — a corner three right in front of his team’s bench to put the Wildcats up 61-59. James Bell then hit two free throws in the final seconds to seal the game for Villanova, winning 63-59.
Dylan Ennis was Villanova’s best offensive player, despite coming off the bench and taking only five shots — he was 4-5 from the field, 3-3 on 3PT, and 3-4 from the line, totaling 14 points.
A quick look at the box score shows an ugly game. Both teams shot below 40% from the field and below 70% from the free throw line. Villanova won this game by being tougher and more physical than Kansas; they out-rebounded the Jayhawks and their talented frontcourt 43 to 34.
All things considered, Villanova wasn’t overly impressive in the sense that their offensive play was very pedestrian. What they did, however, was make Kansas very uncomfortable throughout the game with their physical play on defense and on the boards. Essentially, they frustrated Kansas, and the Jayhawks didn’t respond like the No. 2 team in the country should have.
Andrew Wiggins struggled all night as he scored just ten points on 3-8 shooting from the field and 4-7 from the free throw line. Furthermore, he committed four turnovers. There is no doubting Wiggins’ talent, but this isn’t the first time that he has looked too passive on the floor. Credit Villanova’s defense for that as Wiggins and others were never able to get in a rhythm offensively.
How concerned should Kansas be with the result? Well, how concerned should Duke be with their near loss at home against Vermont? What about Kentucky’s unimpressive performance against Cleveland State? Michigan State’s performance against Columbia? Granted, these were all wins for Duke, Kentucky, and Michigan State, but they exposed weaknesses. We are not even into December yet, so it should come as no surprise that some of the nation’s top teams have had their weaknesses exposed.
Kansas will learn from this loss to Villanova — a team that is hardly any slouch, is now 6-0, and a likely Top 25 team in next week’s poll — and make the necessary adjustments. What is of potential concern is that Kansas was “out-toughed” tonight against Villanova. There are some very talented teams who lack that “it” factor. It is still far too early to be questioning Kansas’ toughness and will to win, but it was obvious that Villanova seemed to want this game more than Kansas.