The Villanova Wildcats (2-0) took down the Arizona State Sun Devils (1-1) 83-74.
J. Robinson Earl – 28 Pts. 8 Reb.
J. Moore – 16 Pts. 12 Reb.
C. Daniels – 14 Pts. 5 Reb. 4 Ast.
C. Gillespie – 11 Pts. 4 Reb. 4 Ast.
From the tip, the difference in tempo was obvious: Villanova was methodical and patient in dishing the ball and making the right passes. ASU was quicker and more aggressive, trying to use their speed to get to the basket and push the pace of the game from the very start.
Robinson Earl demonstrated confident shooting early on, knocking down 2 threes and hitting 11-17 from the field on a career high night. He felt comfortable in his shooting strides, and was patient in knowing when to take the right shot rather than throwing it up when he’s wide open. His defensive missteps in the first quarter when sliding over to help in the paint late did not shake his confidence.
Caleb Daniels took early offensive control in his start; he remained consistent throughout the entire game whether playing guard or forward. This is his first season stepping on the court for Jay Wright, and he was able to demonstrate good posture and shot selection. We are learning that he shoots in streaks, making him good for both a starting and a 6th man role.
We have not seen much of Eric Dixon. While he did not light up the stat sheet, he used his frame to make a difference that doesn’t always show up on the scoreboard. He boxed out effectively and was able to use his stature to create effective pick and roll situations against smaller players for Gillespie and Moore.
Arizona State’s loss can be attributed to many instances where a single player would just dribble the ball in one place for up to 6-7 seconds, creating a lack of offensive communication and execution on fundamentals. They also had poor defensive rebounding, as the Wildcats beat them in total rebound 43 to 27. They let Nova clean the offensive boards despite having a handful of situational size advantages.
What the Sun Devils can look forward to, however, is Josh Christopher. The ESPN No. 11 high school player in the country put up 28 points in his second collegiate outing. He demonstrated speed, hyper athleticism, ferocious energy, and already has a highlight reel in the making.
The Wildcats return to action Saturday night at 8 PM against Virginia Tech at Mohegan Sun. The December 3rd game against Temple will likely be postponed after the Owls shut down for 14 days due to positive Covid-19 tests, so Villanova quickly pivoted and scheduled a game against a Virginia Tech team who is also in the Mohegan Sun bubble.