Villanova kicked off its season with a preseason exhibition game in California against USC and were outplayed in a 72-61 loss.
Even though the ‘Cats didn’t secure the victory, there was still a multitude of positives from the contest.
Freshman Jeremiah Robinson-Earl instilled a lot of hope and excitement for ‘Nova fans, putting up a monster stat line of 20 points, nine rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block, while shooting 10-15 from the field. Saddiq Bey showcased his improved game as well. The sophomore forward contributed 16 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Bey’s three-point jumper looked much sharper as well, as he connected on four of his seven three-point attempts.
Jermaine Samuels put up 11 points but struggled mightily from the field, making just one of his eight attempts. Samuels led the team in assists, however, dishing out nine throughout the game.
Freshman Justin Moore had a solid game as well with eight points and two rebounds, but didn’t record any assists, which is concerning for a starting point guard.
The Wildcats played without starting point guard and leading scorer Collin Gillespie, who suffered a broken nose last week. Bryan Antoine, still recovering from a shoulder injury, also left the ‘Cats short-handed. The team is hopeful that these two will be able to return to action soon.
Brandon Slater, Chris Arcidiacono and Eric Dixon tallied some minutes as well but didn’t make a substantial impact throughout the contest overall.
Although the ‘Cats ended the first-half with a 28-27 lead, the aggressive rebounding from the Trojans helped bring them back up on top.
A positive takeaway for Villanova was the high-level of physicality and aggression. Robinson-Earl, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree and Bey were the main enforcers.
The Wildcats weren’t able to sustain its first half lead, as the Trojans ended up taking control of the second half. This was mostly due to the exceptional play of USC’s Onyeka Okongwu, who tallied a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Trojans were able to defeat the Wildcats, 72-61.
Villanova looks forward to opening its 100th season on November 5, where it will face Army at the Finneran Pavilion.