Andrew Koob (@AndrewKoob)
Villanova (3-1) ended their trip to Madison Square Garden on a sour note, losing to the Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0) in the 2k Sports Classic Championship, 77-55.
Alabama used a 19-2 run early in the second half that spanned seven and a half minutes to help build a cushion against the Wildcats, who overcame an eight point deficit in the semifinals to force overtime against Purdue.
Forward Jayvaughn Pinkston led the charge for the Wildcats, scoring 17 points off of 4-of-6 shooting and grabbed four rebounds. Guard Ryan Arcidiacono followed up his 3-of-14 performance against Purdue with another poor shooting performance, hitting 3-of-10 shots for 11 points.
“We had six assists, and they did a great job of taking Ryan out of our offense,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “Which Purdue tried to do last night, but these guys did a better job. Their guards were bigger, much more physical and their length on their backline was bigger and more athletic. Even when we made some plays, we took the ball into help, we didn’t make the extra pass.”
Villanova had issues hitting anything that wasn’t from the free throw line in the first half. Arcidiacono hit a jumper at the 10:21 mark of the first half, but the Wildcats went cold after that, missing six straight shots from the floor, including two with the final possession of the half. Overall, no Wildcat hit more than two baskets in the opening 20 minutes as they finished off the half only shooting 6-of-20 (30 percent) for 26 points.
“It was 29-26 at halftime, I thought ‘we can’t play any worse’,” Wright said. “We proved me wrong, but we had great shots in the first half, we had Darrun (Hilliard) in foul trouble, Tony (Chennault) in foul trouble. We hit a three to start the second half and then we just couldn’t do anything against them.”
The Wildcats could have easily let the game slip away early, but a game filled with fouls on both sides kept Villanova in the game at the half. With a combined 23 first-half fouls called (nine against Villanova), both teams did damage from the charity line. The Wildcats hit 11-of-14 (78.6 percent) of their free throws in the first half, while Alabama went 3-of-7 (42.9 percent) from the line.
The Crimson Tide relied heavily on the three-point shot early in the game. Within the first ten minutes, Alabama hit 4-of-5 three-pointers, scoring 18 points while going 6-of-8 from the field overall to grab the lead in the early going.
Alabama used a full-court defense, a different approach than what they displayed in a 65-62 win over Oregon State the night before, to try and pressure the Wildcats into forcing passes and turning the ball over. Villanova had trouble getting past the press and committed eight turnovers in the first half. The Wildcats still had issues with the stiff defense in the second half, turning the ball over 17 times.
On the defensive end for Villanova, the Wildcats had trouble dealing with the Crimson Tide’s drive-and-dish offensive strategy, which led to plenty of open looks behind the three-point line for Alabama, who finished 9-of-14 (64.3 percent) from beyond the arc.
“It wasn’t really a disappointment, it was just a learning experience for us,” Pinkston said. “We just have to play more together and play Villanova basketball rather than one-on-one. We’re just going to get back in the gym, keep working and keep getting better, not carrying this over to the next game. It’s a learning experience for us.”
“They played Alabama basketball and we didn’t play Villanova basketball,” Hilliard added. “That’s why they were the better team. They executed better, but we’ll get back to work and we’ll be better.”
Following their stint in Manhattan, Villanova returns home to play Columbia (2-0) on Tuesday, November 20th.