By Jason Schott of BrooklynFans.com - Daly Dose of Hoops Contributor - @JESchott19
At the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday night at The Garden, the 5th-ranked Louisville Cardinals beat the Indiana Hoosiers 94-74, and the Villanova Wildcats, ranked 7th in the country, beat the Illinois Fighting Illini 73-59.
|Louisville's defense gets into position. Photo by Jason Schott.|
LOUISVILLE 94, INDIANA 74
Louisville got some big-time performances from their starters, as they had a relatively easy time with Indiana. Terry Rozier led the way with 26 points on 8-for-17 from the field, including 5-for-8 on three-pointers, with 6 rebounds and an assist. Chris Jones had 24 points on 8-for-17 (2-4 on 3-pointers) with 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Montrezl Harrell had a double-double with 21 points (10-13 FG, 0-1 on 3-pt) and 11 rebounds.
Louisville led this one 46-41 at halftime, but Indiana took a 52-48 lead in the second half on a Troy Williams layup with 16:58 left. Louisville responded with a 10-0 run over the next two minutes capped by a Rozier three. Indiana cut it to four, at 62-58, on a Stanford Robinson layup with 12:21 left. Louisville once again went on a big run, this time 11-2, to open up a 73-60 lead on Wayne Blackshear free throws with 7:19 left. Rozier hit a three with 3:07 left that basically sealed the game, giving Louisville a commanding 83-68 lead.
|Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino said of the night, "As a sidebar, I knew Jimmy Valvano pretty well and he was quite special to me. We obviously wanted to come in and get a victory, but we also wanted to have a great game for the fans and television because what they do for the V Foundation really deserves a great, and that kind of style of basketball by both teams was a lot of fun for all of us to be a part of. They're very difficult to defend because they'll play five people on the perimeter, then they'll drive on you, can't help because they're shooting so well. In the second half, we did an outstanding job, but we just wanted to keep the offensive pressure on them.
"Our backcourt played a great game, Montrezl Harrell, who I think is the best player in the nation, I've said that for quite some time because very few players can play with that type of motor. A lot of great players come through, but he has a skill like Kenneth Faried and (Dennis) Rodman in his prime, that just play every possession as if he hasn't eaten in a week is quite special," said Pitino.
VILLANOVA 73, ILLINOIS 59
|Villanova's defense, the key to their victory down the stretch. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Villanova dominated Illinois early in this one, with a 33-27 lead at halftime. Illinois fought back to tie the game at 50 on an Aaron Cosby three-pointer with 8:29 left in the second half.
Villanova responded immediately with back-to-back threes from Dylan Ennis, and they never looked back. A Josh Hart layup with 1:42 left gave Villanova a 73-57 lead, capping off a 23-7 run to seal the win.
Villanova was led by Ennis, who had 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting, including those two threes, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Daniel Ochefu and Darrun Hilliard had 12 points each, and Josh Hart had 10 points off the bench.
Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright said of the win, "Really good win for us against a very, very good team. They did a really good job at the end of the first half and middle of the second half of just taking us out of our stuff and we really had a tough time getting our offense going and there was a period at the end where we could get inside to Daniel (Ochefu) and that got us going because they took everything else away. They're a good team, well coached, and a good team, that's why it's a good win."
Dylan Ennis said of when it appeared he took the game over in the second half, "We got great guys. We all play hard. It's never one guy taking over the game. I think that's what's so great about us; we play like a team no matter if we're up or down, even a tie game. I never thought of taking over the game, I just wanted to do what I do for the team and try and get the win."
Ennis said of the team's defense in the second half, "Coach (Wright) in practice always tells us, 'defense, defense, defense.' No matter what we play, we're going to play the exact same way. We play hard, smart, together, and defense is what we pride ourselves on."
Ennis said of whether he could feel a momentum swing in the second half, "Definitely. Momentum comes from our defense. We get stops. We get rebounds. We can't score unless we get stops. Momentum comes from our defense, that's what makes us riled up. A lot of people can get riled up from offense, but we're different. We dare to be different."