This week, as part of the weekly blog series analyzing assist data from notable college basketball games, we head toward the Big East for a showdown between the top two teams in the conference—#3 Villanova and #4 Xavier. On Saturday, February 17th, the Wildcats went on the road and defeated the fourth-ranked Musketeers in a high-scoring game, 95-79.
The Villanova Wildcats rank third in the country in points per game at 87.4 and first in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency. Although the Wildcats have one of the most potent offenses in the nation, they do not always rely on their passing to win games. Their 16.8 assists per game ranks 26th in the country, but they only rank 143rd in the nation in assist percentage at 53.8%. In this game, however, the Wildcats had a whopping 25 assists and assisted on 65.7% of their made shots. Their tremendous passing helped them shoot 60.3% from the field and 47.1% from beyond the arc.
Sophomore guard Donte DiVincenzo and junior forward Eric Paschall both set new season highs in assists with nine and six, respectively, while junior point guard Jalen Brunson tied his season high with eight. In addition, all three players surpassed their season average in assists per game by over three assists. Out of DiVincenzo’s nine assists, three went to Mikal Bridges, three to Omari Spellman, two to Jalen Brunson, and the final one to Collin Gillespie. Point guard Jalen Brunson distributed his eight assists relatively evenly, with two going to Donte DiVincenzo, two going to Collin Gillespie, one going to Mikal Bridges, and one going to Omari Spellman. Paschall dished to Mikal Bridges on five occasions, while his sixth assist went to Jermaine Samuels. This 26-point road win over the 4th ranked team in the country could not have been accomplished without some great passing.