December 28, 2017 / 3:16 AM / a year ago

Villanova drubs DePaul in Big East opener

Villanova drubs DePaul in Big East opener

Villanova coach Jay Wright didn’t think his top-ranked Wildcats played a complete game in their 103-85 rout of host DePaul on Wednesday. However, Villanova did hit shots — lots of them.

Mikal Bridges led seven Wildcats in double figures with 20 points, and Villanova hit 15 3-pointers in an efficient road victory in their Big East opener at Chicago.

Villanova (13-0, 1-0 Big East) never trailed and led by as many as 30 points in the second half. The Wildcats reached 100 points for the third time this season and gave Wright his 399th career win.

“We made shots tonight,” Wright said. “When you make shots like that, everything’s going to look better. We didn’t defend too well, we didn’t rebound too well, but we just drilled shots. Any night when you make shots like that, you’re going to be pretty successful.”

Max Strus scored 20 points and Marin Maric added 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Demons (7-6, 0-1), who dropped their 15th straight game to Villanova.

Phil Booth had 17 points, Jalen Brunson and Eric Paschall each scored 16, and freshman forward Omari Spellman had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Villanova. Donte DiVincenzo and Jermaine Samuels finished with 11 apiece.

The Wildcats stormed out to an 18-6 lead. DiVincenzo hit a pair of 3-pointers during the hot start.

DePaul climbed back into the game and was down only 28-21 on a layup from Maric with eight minutes left in the first half.

Brunson helped Villanova answer the challenge by scoring 10 of his 12 first-half points during the final eight minutes of the half. The Wildcats led 48-33 at halftime.

“Jalen is the consummate Villanova guard,” Wright said of his junior star. “Probably more than any guard we have ever had — Kyle Lowry was the same way — he controls the tempo of the game. When he wants to go fast, he can go fast. When he gets out in transition, he out-runs people with the ball. He’s a tremendous weapon for us and is a great leader for us, too.”

Villanova opened the second half with a 15-5 run, capped by a DiVincenzo layup that pushed the Wildcats’ lead to 63-38. Villanova hit six of its first seven 3-pointers in the second half and was never seriously threatened down the stretch.

The Wildcats are off to a 13-0 start for the second straight season.

DePaul outrebounded Villanova 50-31 and had 22 offensive rebounds but couldn’t keep up with the hot-shooting Wildcats, who hit 54.3 percent of their shots. The Blue Demons shot 40.8 percent from the floor.

“It’s phenomenal the way they make shots, and a lot of it is they move the ball so well, and all five guys — they don’t have a guy that you don’t have to guard at the 3-point line,” DePaul coach Dave Leitao said. “And when you have that and fill a space and you play unselfishly, you’re going to get open shots. They do it to a high level, and as a result they make a lot of shots.”

NOTES: Villanova remained ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for a third straight week. It is the 13th week in the past three seasons that the Wildcats have been No. 1. ... DePaul fell to 3-21 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams. The Blue Demons’ last win over a top-ranked team came 65 years ago to the day. DePaul beat La Salle on Dec. 27, 1952. ... DePaul travels to No. 6 Xavier on Saturday. ... The Wildcats are at Butler on Saturday.

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