CHICAGO — Mikal Bridges scored 20 points, Phil Booth added 17 points and six assists, and No. 1 Villanova made it look easy, beating DePaul 103-85 on Wednesday in the Big East opener for both teams.
The Wildcats (13-0, 1-0 Big East) closed in on last year’s program-record 14-0 start and gave coach Jay Wright his 399th victory in 17 seasons at Villanova.
Bridges and Booth each made four 3-pointers, and the Wildcats nailed 15 of 31 from long range.
Chicago-area product Jalen Brunson had 16 points and five assists. Eric Paschall scored 16, and Villanova hit the 100-point mark for the third time this season.
Max Strus had 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists for DePaul (7-6, 0-1). Marin Maric added 17 points and 10 rebounds, but the Blue Demons dropped their 13th straight against ranked opponents. They fell to 3-21 against No. 1 teams.
The Wildcats beat DePaul for the 15th straight time and improved to 25-8 in the all-time series. They shot 18 of 34 and nailed 8 of 18 3-point attempts on the way to a 48-33 halftime lead.
Any remaining suspense got wiped out by an 11-0 run early in the second half that made it 61-36. Booth hit a 3 and a layup during that spurt, and Jermaine Samuels finished it with two free throws. Bridges’ 3 with just over 15 minutes left made it 69-39.
About the only thing Blue Demons fans had to cheer was when Bears great Otis Wilson was introduced in the closing minutes.
There was a scary moment late in the first half when DePaul’s Peter Ryckbosch collided with Booth going for a defensive rebound and banged his head on the court. He stayed down for a couple minutes before walking to the locker room.
Villanova: The Wildcats are No. 1 for the third week in a row and it’s not hard to see why.
DePaul: The Blue Demons couldn’t get their shots to fall. They were 29 of 71 overall and 6 of 23 on 3’s.
Villanova: The Wildcats visit Butler on Saturday. The Bulldogs swept both games last season and handed Villanova its first loss after a 14-0 start.
DePaul: The schedule doesn’t get easier, with the Blue Demons visiting No. 6 Xavier on Saturday.