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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — Slow starts have been pretty commonplace for Villanova this season. That said, so have overcoming them.
Once again the Wildcats entered the first timeout of the half facing a sizeable deficit and once again they turned up the defense, and swung the momentum considerably, eventually coasting to a 78-48 win over Delaware Tuesday.
No. 17 Villanova (9-2) trailed the Blue Hens 12-2 at the first timeout before embarking on a 34-8 to turn those uncomfortable first few minutes into a solid victory.
The Wildcats were keyed by sharpshooting from the 3-point line, led by Josh Hart who made his first four 3-pointers and finished with his second career double-double with 18 points and a career-high 14 rebounds on 70 percent shooting (7-10).
"I didn't have any defensive rebounds against Virginia and I've never had that happen to me in a game," Hart said. "It's something coach talked to me about — getting back to the basics and having the heart and will to get the job done."
Jaylen Brunson sparked the offense with three consecutive 3-pointers after the first time out and finished with 13 points.
"He definitely did a great job of getting us going with those threes," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "Our philosophy is to teach guys to be aggressive with their shooting. We may have been a bit over-aggressive with that to start the season. Our shot selection has been getting better and will continue to get better as we move along."
Ryan Arcidiacono added 11 points and Phil Booth finished with 9 points and 7 assists playing 29 minutes off the bench after Kris Jenkins left the game in the first half with a knee injury. Overall, the Villanova bench outscored the Delaware bench 25-0.
Outside of Kory Holden (23 points) and Cazmon Hayes (14 points) the Blue Hens (5-5) couldn't generate much offense, becoming the eighth team this season to shoot less than 40 percent against the stifling Villanova defense.
"Right now that's not a game we are capable of achieving what we need to offensively, " Delaware coach Monte Ross said. "They are obviously a very talented team."
Every game this season for Villanova (9-2) has been decided by double digits.
Villanova improved to 14-0 all-time against Delaware while the Blue Hens fell to 0-32 all-time against ranked opponents.
Villanova: With this win, coach Wright now has 450 career victories. He had 122 in seven seasons as the coach of Hofstra University (1994-2001) and has amassed 328 in 15 seasons with the Wildcats.
Delaware: Holden and Hayes were the only Blue Hens to score a basket in the first half against Villanova. That was the second consecutive game that happened for Delaware as those two combined for all 35 first half points in their loss at Boston College last Saturday.
Villanova: Kris Jenkins left the game in the first half for Villanova with a sprained knee and did not return. Jenkins stumbled awkwardly near the 3-point line and twisted backward over his knee. After the game Wright said he had no update on Jenkins but that "It didn't look good." Jenkins will get an MRI on Wednesday. If Jenkins is sidelined he will join fellow injured rotation players Donte DiVicenzo and Tim Delaney. Wright added that he's starting to worry about his team's depth.
Delaware: Ross said he is hopeful to get swingman Devonne Pinkard back from his foot injury in the next 1-2 weeks. Pinkard has missed seven consecutive games. He averaged 12.5 points before getting injured against Fairleigh Dickinson last month. Getting some of his minutes has been Curtis McRoy. McRoy was a team manager as a freshman and a walk-on as a sophomore. Now a junior he was averaging 7 minutes per game before Tuesday. He played 13 minutes against Villanova.
Villanova host Pennsylvania on Monday.
Delaware travels to Buffalo on Tuesday Dec. 29.
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