No. 16 Villanova rolls past Penn 77-57
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — Already the class of Philadelphia hoops, Villanova is ready to establish it’s still king of the Big East.
Jalen Brunson scored 22 points and Daniel Ochefu had 12 points and 10 rebounds to help No. 16 Villanova roll past Penn 77-57 on Monday night.
The Wildcats (10-2) scored the first 14 points and led 30-3, cruising in their final game before the Big East opener Thursday against No. 6 Xavier.
The undefeated Musketeers will surely provide a tougher test than the overwhelmed Quakers (5-7).
“As soon as the ball goes up, we’re going to be ready,” Ochefu said. “Everyone knows, the Big East is a whole different best.”
Up next for Villanova, ringing in the new year in grand fashion.
The Wildcats have breezed through the nonconference portion of their schedule against the unranked lightweights, stomping Nebraska, Akron and La Salle, among others, to assume their usual spot in the Top 25.
But against ranked teams, the Wildcats are 0-2, falling to No. 3 Oklahoma and now-No. 5 Virginia. The Sooners stomped the Wildcats by 23 points and Virginia pulled away late in an 86-75 win.
With a win against Xavier (12-0), the defending Big East champion Wildcats would show the road to the conference championship again starts at the Main Line.
The Wildcats were on cruise control in their final tune-up game before Big East play.
“There’s no better learning situation than a game,” coach Jay Wright said.
Jackson Donahue led Penn with 18 points. Penn missed 15 of 16 3-point attempts and shot 17 percent overall from the field in the first half.
The Wildcats beat Penn for the 13th straight time and sent the Quakers to their sixth loss overall in seven games.
“I thought our preparation was great, but that’s why Villanova’s been so good over the last few years,” coach Steve Donahue said. “They just have kids that really buy into what they’re all about and just take pride in their defense.”
Ochefu, a 6-foot-11, 245-pound forward, had a soft touch on two jumpers and scored nine of Villanova’s first 11 points. Ryan Arcidiacono converted a three-point play and the Wildcats led 14-0. Arcidiacono scored 13 points.
“I take that shot practically every day at practice,” Ochefu said. “They gave me a lot of space and room to shoot.”
The Quakers committed four turnovers and missed four shots on their first eight possessions, setting the tone for a miserable game.
Brunson, the highly prized freshman guard, made 9 of 10 shots overall and scored 20 points in the second half.
“They just played us 1-on-1 and I was being aggressive,” Brunson said.
The Wildcats have won 13 straight games in the Big 5, round-robin play among five Philadelphia Division I basketball teams that dates to 1955.
PENN: Guard Antonio Woods, who averaged 11.9 points, left after a hard fall late in the first half. He grabbed his left ankle as he walked to the locker room and did not return. He may have a high ankle sprain. ... Donahue made his first career start.
VILLANOVA: The Wildcats missed six straight free throws at one point in the first half. ... Guard Kris Jenkins, who sprained his right knee last week against Delaware, scored two points in 19 minutes. Wright said Jenkins didn’t play “like he had real confidence.” ... The Wildcats won their 33rd straight game at the Pavilion. ... They can complete a perfect Big 5 season with a win over Temple on Feb. 17. ... Wright didn’t play his deep subs until there were 44 seconds left in the game. ... The Wildcats missed 10 of 11 3-pointers.
The Xavier game will mark only 15th time two ranked teams have played in the Pavilion. The Wildcats are 11-3. Xavier is the first Top Ten team to play at the Pavilion since No. 4 Pittsburgh on Feb. 12, 2011. Villanova has a 6-7 career record against Top Ten teams at the Pavilion.
Penn hosts Binghamton on Saturday.
The Wildcats host Xavier on Thursday in game between Big East favorites.