No. 12 Villanova racked up 29 wins and a Big East regular season title due in large part to their offensive balance and their ability to slow down most opponents on the other end of the floor. Jay Wright’s team led the Big East in both scoring and field goal percentage defense in 2013-14, and they were also the conference’s best when it came to steals. Thursday night Villanova ran into some trouble at home against Bucknell, with hot-shooting Chris Hass being the player they struggled to slow down.
Hass scored a career-high 32 points, shooting 9-for-12 from the field and 11-for-12 from the foul line. Luckily for Villanova they were able to get stops when they needed them, with two Daniel Ochefu blocked shots and a Darrun Hilliard forced turnover making the difference late in what would turn into a 72-65 victory.
Bucknell finished the night shooting 47.1% from the field, but they also committed 24 turnovers and after surviving those miscues early the Bison were unable to do so down the stretch. Yet even with Bucknell’s field goal percentage and the outstanding performance put forth by Hass, it’s the offensive end where Villanova’s greatest concerns lie ahead of their matchup with VCU Monday night in Brooklyn.
The Wildcats shot just under 39 percent from the field, and they made just five of their twenty-two attempts from beyond the arc. Through three games Villanova’s shot 26.3% from three, a far cry from the 35.6% clip the Wildcats shot a season ago. And outside of Dylan Ennis, who made two of his three attempts Thursday night and is now shooting 43.8% from deep, the Wildcats’ expected perimeter threats have struggled.
Hilliard (18 attempts) and Ryan Arcidiacono (13) have each made three three-pointers this season, with forward Kris Jenkins (5-for-17) currently second on the team in made three pointers.
The good news for Villanova is that they’ve been able to get scoring in other areas thus far. Through three games the Wildcats are scoring just over 31 points per game (31.3) in the paint, and just under 27 points per game (26.7) off of turnovers. Against Bucknell, Villanova was plus-16 in points off turnovers (23-7) but minus-4 (24-20) in points in the paint. Given how good VCU is at converting turnovers into points themselves, Villanova’s unlikely to enjoy a similar advantage Monday night.
With that being the case the Wildcats need their best shooters, most notably Arcidiacono and Hilliard, to arrive in Brooklyn ready to knock down some shots.