The Villanova Wildcats pulled off a massive upset in beating the AP No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks 63-59 on Friday evening at Imperial Arena in the Bahamas.
Ryan Arcidiacono missed all five of his previous attempts, but drained a contested three-pointer with 10 seconds left to put the Wildcats on top for good.
Villanova #UPSETS #2 Kansas 63-59! Ryan Arcidiacono hits the GW 3 pointer with 10 seconds left!— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) November 30, 2013
James Bell then iced the game after Jayhawks freshman point guard Frank Taylor missed a three-pointer at the other end.
ESPN Stats & Info highlighted how successful Villanova has been in games against college basketball's best:
Villanova: won 4 of its last 5 vs AP top-5 opponents after beating No. 2 Kansas. The Wildcats are also 6-0 for the 1st time since 2009-10.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 30, 2013
After Kansas' 11-2 run to open the game, it was mostly a defensive struggle in this Battle 4 Atlantis tournament semifinal, as neither team shot particularly well from the field.
The difference came from each team's bench. Villanova's Dylan Ennis put up 14 points and sank four of his five shots from the field—including all of his attempts from three-point range. Ennis matched Darrun Hilliard as the game's top scorer with 14 points, but wasn't a factor down the stretch when Kansas stormed back.
However, Mason put in 12 of his own to lead the Jayhawks in scoring, getting a three-point play with 33 seconds left to give Kansas a late lead.
In the last eight minutes of the contest, Kansas' two other highly-touted freshmen in Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid made their own impact in helping the Jayhawks mount a comeback charge.
A beautiful spin move and finish at the hoop by Wiggins sparked the run, cutting the lead to 57-48 after Villanova's Josh Hart hit a corner three to put the Wildcats up by 11.
Then it was Embiid's turn. The big man got a bucket from close range, split a pair of free throws and fed Perry Ellis—who had 11 points—with a beautiful pass. Ellis' lay-in shrank the deficit to four.
Another split of free throws by Wiggins extended the run to 8-0, making it a one-possession game. However, the momentum turned back in Villanova's favor when Hilliard drew Embiid's fifth foul on the next trip down the court.
Embiid had 10 points and five rebounds in only 12 minutes, as his foul trouble made it difficult for head coach Bill Self to adjust his personnel at this early juncture in the 2013-14 season.
ESPN.com's Jason King had extremely high praise for Embiid:
In another few months, Joel Embiid will be mentioned as the potential No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. He'll at least be in the conversation.— Jason King (@JasonKingESPN) November 30, 2013
But the absence of Embiid did not stagnate the Jayhawks' offense, which actually managed to mount a rally, capped off by Mason's three-point play.
That was preceded by a missed layup by Hilliard and a failed tip from point-blank range by JayVaughn Pinkston. Thankfully, Arcidiacono's shot bailed his teammates out.
And down goes No. 2 Kansas to Villanova. Nearly gave it away but hang on in the end. Hoops has been awesome so far this year.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) November 30, 2013
Wright made the right call in inserting Ennis into the game to give his offense a big spark. It was necessary for Villanova, who had 17 turnovers in a game of sloppy execution, yet still improved to 6-0 on the year.
JayhawkSlant.com documented what Wright had to say after the game, as he implied that the Jayhawks had plenty of room to grow and that he wouldn't want to play them down the road:
Villanova coach Jay Wright on Kansas: "I don't want to play them in March." Just take this one and get better #kubball— JayhawkSlant (@JayhawkSlant) November 30, 2013
This is a setback for Kansas, but Self is one of the premier coaches in the nation. He has both the talent at his disposal and the experience to get his squad back on track in short order after its first loss on the young season.