CRAWFORD | Louisville regional: Villanova mauls Miami, continues - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Louisville regional: Villanova mauls Miami, continues run of routs

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Villanova coach Jay Wright during his team's victory over Miami. (AP photo by Timothy Easley) Villanova coach Jay Wright during his team's victory over Miami. (AP photo by Timothy Easley)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — We’ve been here before, and Villanova has been here before. But this bunch may well be a different breed of cat.

If you can find a team that has left a wider a swath of destruction on its way to this point than Villanova, please, sharpie them over top of your bracket.

Jay Wright’s Wildcats began the tournament by pounding UNC Asheville by 30. Then they stopped Iowa by 19. You could say, well, yes, but wait until they play an elite team.

On Thursday night in the KFC Yum! Center, Villanova faced a long, athletic Miami team that plays very good offense and pretty good defense. You beat Miami, you’ve beaten somebody.

Villanova beat the Hurricanes. Villanova hushed the Hurricanes. Villanova humbled the Hurricanes, 92-69.

Miami shot 67 percent in the first half. It made 7 of 11 threes. That’s a good game from beyond the arc for a lot of teams. Miami managed it in one half.

Didn’t matter, despite all that, Villanova led by 6 at the break. the Wildcats outscored Miami 14-5 off turnovers. They shot 64 percent themselves and made 6 of 8 threes.

Well, you figure, they’re going to cool off.

Check again. In the second half, Villanova shot 61.5 percent. It made 4 of 7 threes. They missed only 19 shots the entire game. They made 10 of 15 threes. They were 18 of 19 from the line.

“They're just an incredible offensive team,” Miami coach Jim Larrañaga said. “We had no way to stop them. We couldn't put any defensive stops together, and the credit goes to Jay and the game plan they had and the way they've played throughout the season.”

And this wasn’t against a lineup of chopped liver. Miami remained in striking distance. With 10 minutes left, the Hurricanes were only down 10.

“You could tell by that first half both teams just couldn't stop each other,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “Both of us are man-to-man teams. Both of us went zone because we couldn't guard each other.”

But eventually, someone had to blink. Miami’s offense faltered. Villanova was able to put together some defensive stops, create some turnovers. Miami wasn’t.

“We were playing, ourselves, at a very high level of offensive efficiency, and everybody in the league (ACC) that we faced did,” Larrañaga said. ”But nobody shot the three and stretched our defense out like these guys did. They only took 15 threes. Seemed like they took 30 and made 25 of them. Seemed like every, every opportunity we had to get a stop, especially like at the end of the first half, it's a 3-point game, they throw it out to Kris Jenkins and he buries a 35-footer like it's a layup. So you've just got to give them credit.”

The Wildcats got 21 points apiece from Kris Jenkins and Ryan Archidiacano. They got 17 and a brilliant post performance from Daniel Ochefu. They got 14 points from Josh Hart.

Miami’s Sheldon McClellan scored 26 points and made 5 of 7 threes. But it wasn’t enough. Villanova did the little things. It outrebouned Miami 27-17. It got to the line.

And now it is back in the Elite Eight, where it came as a No. 1 seed in 2005-06 and lost. In 2008-09, it came to the Elite Eight and advanced to the Final Four. The players on this roster experienced none of that. But they had experienced second-round losses in back-to-back seasons before this year.

“I think you see in our seniors and juniors — I really don't think they look at those last two years as disappointment,” Wright said. “We've really tried not to make it disappointment to them. . . . We played good games in both of those games, just got beat. And we made sure those guys didn't ever look at that as a disappointment. We were proud of them, and we wanted them to be proud of themselves. I think what you're seeing is a team that's learned a lot from those games and that is experienced. They've been there twice. They've lost. They don't fear it. They don't fear losing in the second round. Then don't fear losing in the Sweet 16. They just are driven to advance. And I think having no fear is what we're seeing.”

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