Villanova slipped out of the AP Top 25 poll after one surprising loss and one cruise-control type of win.
The Wildcats can shift their trajectory at the Battle 4 Atlantis in Nassau, Bahamas, where they’ll face undefeated Texas Tech in the first round Wednesday afternoon.
Villanova (3-1) lost a Philadelphia Big 5 rivalry game at Penn 76-72 on Nov. 13. The upset angered some Villanova fans who are used to national title-contending teams under former coach Jay Wright.
The Wildcats responded with a 57-40 win over Maryland on Friday, and it was hardly as close as the score might suggest. Villanova led 49-17 with 12:30 to play as the Terrapins couldn’t buy a bucket.
“Every game we’re going into we just want to play a full 40 minutes of Villanova basketball no matter after a win or after a loss,” coach Kyle Neptune said postgame. “If somehow or another we pulled that (Penn) game out, we would have been thinking the same exact thing. That’s where we want to be.”
Neptune also said his team can get much better, pointing to Villanova’s 11 second-half turnovers when the result was in hand.
Texas Tech (3-0) beat up on Texas A&M-Commerce and San Jose State in the early going. The Red Raiders led by as many as 12 points before settling for a 73-64 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi last Thursday.
Texas Tech had 17 turnovers and made just 5 of 24 shots from 3-point range.
“When we step into a really tough road swing,” new Red Raiders coach Grant McCasland said, “we’re going to play legit Big 12-type teams, and how do you prepare every day and how do you prepare every second when you play in that urgency? We’re still trying to figure that out.”
“… I love this group, but that’s not going to win. That’s not going to win the Big 12, what we did today.”
Texas Tech has six players averaging at least 7.0 points per game, led by Pop Isaacs’ 11.7. Isaacs also has 3.3 assists per game, while Darrion Williams is averaging 11.0 points and 9.0 rebounds.
Veteran Justin Moore leads Villanova with 16.0 points per game. Richmond transfer Tyler Burton (11.8 points, 8.3 rebounds) and Washington State transfer TJ Bamba (11.3 ppg) are also important cogs in the machine.
The winner between Villanova and Texas Tech will face the winner between No. 14 North Carolina and Northern Iowa in the semifinals Thursday.
–Field Level Media
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