5 Things We Learned from Villanova's Win over Milwaukee

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2014

5 Things We Learned from Villanova's Win over Milwaukee

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    The Villanova Wildcats were able to avoid a potentially embarrassing loss at the hands of No. 15 Milwaukee on Thursday night in Buffalo. 

    Villanova had a poor first half, but it was eventually able to pull away with a 73-53 victory in its first game in the East region. 

    Jay Wright's team advanced to the third round, where they will face a foe from the old Big East in No. 7 UConn in prime time at approximately 9:40 p.m. ET on Saturday. 

    Before we take a look at the UConn matchup, let's look back at the five biggest lessons from the win over Milwaukee. 

The Wildcats Relied Too Much on the Long Ball

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    Villanova missed its first 16 shots from beyond the arc in the 20-point victory that was closer than the final score represents. 

    The first three-pointer was made with 11:56 left in the game by Kris Jenkins, who then went on to hit two more threes. 

    When the final buzzer sounded, the Wildcats finished an abysmal 4-of-23 from three-point range. 

    The guards in the Villanova lineup have a sickening propensity to keep shooting three-pointers no matter what the game situation is and regardless of if they are going in or not. 

    That strategy almost backfired on the Wildcats, and if it happens against UConn, a third-round exit is going to be the result.

Kris Jenkins Earned Himself More Playing Time

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    Jenkins proved his worth off the bench on Thursday night by not only hitting the first three of the game, but drilling two more after that. 

    The freshman had an efficient 19 minutes on the court. He shot 4-of-7 from the field, while contributing three rebounds, two assists and two blocks. 

    Jenkins showed Wright that he is ready to take his game to the next level. Expect him to play more than 19 minutes against UConn, especially if the starters continue to struggle on offense. 

Darrun Hilliard Loves the Postseason Pressure

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    When the Wildcats went on their late run in March last season, guard Darrun Hilliard was one of the key contributors, with double-digit points in five of his final eight games of the season.

    This year, Hilliard has become a more consistent scorer with more than 10 points in each of his last eight games. 

    The junior guard scored a team-high 16 points in their second-round victory, and unlike his teammates, he was actually somewhat accurate from the field. Hilliard shot 6-of-10 and made all three of his free-throw attempts.

    With the team in a funk at the moment, the play of Hilliard is a constant that must continue in order for the Wildcats to hit opponents from all directions when they eventually fire on all cylinders.

Backdoor Cut Opportunities Need to Be Eliminated

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    On a few occasions throughout the game, Milwaukee was able to exploit the Villanova defense with backdoor cuts in the paint to earn easy layups.

    The Wildcats left themselves open down low because of double-teams and bad positioning, neither of which will help them leave Buffalo with a Sweet 16 berth. 

    UConn possess plenty of big men that can exploit this same exact issue on Saturday. It is something that Daniel Ochefu, JayVaughn Pinkston and others must be aware of. 

    If this remains a problem on the defensive side of the ball, the Huskies will tear the Wildcats to shreds inside. 

The Wildcats Were Lucky Milwaukee Played Worse on Offense

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    If you thought that Villanova shot bad in the second-round clash at the First Niagara Center, take a look at Milwaukee's box score. 

    The Panthers shot 29 percent from the field as a team and made just six three-pointers.

    Due to Villanova's lack of offense, the team's halftime lead was only four points. Until the Jenkins three woke the players up, Milwaukee had a legitimate chance to spring an upset if it went on one run. 

    As the stage gets bigger with each game, the Wildcats will not be as lucky to see their opponents shoot worse than they did. 

    In all honesty, we could have been talking about a Villanova loss right now, but the team got lucky and went on to live another day in the Big Dance.


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