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Villanova Takes Down Top-Ranked Kansas

Villanova Takes Down Kansas: In an exciting game, the 18th ranked Villanova took down the top team in the nation of Kansas University. In a game with several lead changes, Jermaine Samuels hit a three to put ‘Nova up 24 seconds to play to go up by one. Devon Dotson missed a contested shot at the buzzer as the Wildcats won by a final score of 56-55. Villanova improves to 9-2 on the season, while Kansas falls to 9-2 as well. Here are some thoughts from this exciting game. 

1. Jermaine Samuels is heating up

Jermaine Samuels emerged for Villanova during Conference play last season and was huge down the stretch for the Wildcats. This season, Samuels hasn’t been as much of a factor, especially as a shooter; he is shooting just 28.6% from deep. However, over the past two games, Samuels has come alive, putting up 15 points against Kansas and 18 points in their win against Delaware on December 14. He hit the game-winner today, and it will be interesting to see if he can build on his recent success going forward.    

2. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl did a great job on Udoka Azubuike

Considering how dominant he’s been, Udoka Azubuike did not have a great day with Jeremiah Robinson-Earl guarding him. Azubuike had been 16/17 from the field in his previous three games but was held to just 12 points on 6/10 from the field against Villanova. Despite the significant size disadvantage, Robinson-Earl also was able to out-hustle and reel-in several rebounds against Azubuike, especially late in the game. Now, all the Freshman has to do is become a reliable shooter.  

3. Poor shooting nights are a liability for the Wildcats

Jay Wright’s offensive system over the past few years has been simple: shoot threes and box-out. The biggest issue with this system is that when the 3s aren’t falling, it can put a load of pressure on the defense to step up. Forty-one of Villanova’s 63 shot attempts were from deep, but they made just ten (24.4%) of those attempts. Thankfully, Villanova limited Udoka Azubuike and Devon Dotson on offense as the defense stepped up. Rough shooting nights like this could be a killer for Villanova come tournament time.   

4. Kansas suffered a tough injury in this game

Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, Junior Marcus Garrett was forced out of Saturday’s game in the first half with a right ankle injury. Garrett came down awkwardly while driving in for a layup. Fortunately for him, it looks like the injury won’t be season-ending per team reports. Last season, Garrett suffered a similar injury and missed nine games for the team. He is putting up 9.4 ppg, 4.5 apg, and 1.8 spg this season. Hopefully, he won’t miss an extended period of games.   

Moving Forward: 

The number one ranked team in the nation for whatever reason has struggled this season, and that continued Saturday with Kansas losing. The Jayhawks are now almost guranteed to fall from the top spot following their loss. Their next game is on December 29 against the Stanford Cardinal. 

As for Villanova, they are, for sure, going to move up in the national ranking after taking down the top team. They will get over a week of rest before their next game on December 30 when they take on the Xavier Musketeers.

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