By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —It’s not supposed look this easy. Not here. Not in the Final Four. But it seems this incarnation of Villanova gets stronger the deeper the Wildcats go into the NCAA Tournament—against better opponents.
Kansas scored the first basket 17 seconds into the Final Four game against Villanova Saturday night in the Alamodome, in San Antonio, Texas.
The rest of the game was a blur of Villanova three-pointers. Kansas held one lead, 2-0, when Villanova responded by scoring the game’s next 11 points and that was it. Villanova was an absolute wrecking machine, smashing the Jayhawks, 95-79, to advance to the national championship game Monday night against Michigan (32-7), 69-57 victories over Cinderella Loyola-Chicago (32-5) in the first game.
After it was over, Villanova owned the Final Four single-game record for most three-pointers (18), the most three-pointers made in the NCAA Tournament (66) and the most three-pointers made in a single season (454).
Six Villanova players scored in double-figures, led by Eric Paschall’s game-high 24 points, followed by Jalen Brunson’s 18. Villanova was 36-of-65 from the floor (55.4%), and an amazing 18-of-40 from three-point range (45.0%).
Michigan came out to sit in the Alamodome stands during the first half of Villanova’s game against Kansas—and the Wolverines had to come away cringing over what they’ll be facing in the national title game Monday night.
Villanova (35-4) sank 13 of 26 three-point attempts—in the first half. The Wildcats’ 13 three-point field goals tied a Final Four record for most three-point shots made in a single Final Four game. Paschall’s trey with 18:58 to play set a new record for three-pointers made in a Final Four game snapping the old mark that stood since 1987, the first year of the three-point shot, when UNLV hit 13 threes in a loss to Indiana.
Villanova owned a 22-4 lead, 43-17 edge and were ahead 47-32 by halftime. The Wildcats didn’t shoot their first free throw of the game until 8:48 was left to play, and with 7:55 remaining in the game, holding a secure 74-57 lead, Villanova had as many three-point baskets (making 17 of 36) as Kansas had three-pointers (5) and free throws (12) combined.
Seven different Wildcats hit three-pointers, with Paschall being the hottest shooter, at one point making 9 of 10 shots, making 4 of 5 beyond the arc. He finished making 10 of 11.
Kansas (31-8) had trouble keeping up with Villanova’s ball movement. Jayhawks’ 7-foot center Udoka Azubuike couldn’t keep up with Villanova’s 6-9 freshman Omari Spellman, who made two threes in boosting Villanova to get out to a 14-4 lead. Kansas never got within 10 points the rest of the game.
After Villanova’s 11-0 run in response to the Jayhawks scoring the game’s first basket, the closest Kansas ever came to the Wildcats was 11-4 on a Devonte’ Graham layup with 16:20 remaining in the first half.