Villanova cruises to championship game with a 95-79 win over Kansas
They held a national semifinal game Saturday night and it was over before the second timeout.
The NCAA tournament game didn’t officially end at that point, of course, but it could have been halted for public indecency.
It was Villanova 22, Kansas 4 before seven minutes had expired and that somehow wasn’t as bad as things got for the Jayhawks.
Top-seeded Kansas’ blueblood spilled all over the Alamodome court during a 95-79 whitewashing by the equally seeded but vastly superior Wildcats and their barrage of three-point shots.
“That was just one of those nights, man,” coach Jay Wright said after the Wildcats made 18 of 40 three-point shots, setting a record for a Final Four game. “We made every shot to start the game and when you do that … it’s tough to come back on that.”
The Wildcats nearly equaled the NCAA tournament record of 21 three-point baskets set by Loyola Marymount against Michigan in 1990.
Villanova’s 66 three-point baskets over its last five games are an NCAA tournament record with one game to play, which will come in the national championship against Michigan on Monday night. Villanova (35-4) will try to win its second title in three years.
Father Rob Hagan, Villanova’s team chaplain, heartily clapped as he walked onto the court during a timeout with about eight minutes left and the Wildcats ahead by 17 points. Last rites already had been given in front of 68,257.
“That’s as good a team we’ve played against as I can remember,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “They’d be hard for anybody to deal with if they shoot the ball like that.”
Villanova held a 10-point lead before four minutes had elapsed, removing any drama from the balance of the game.
“It’s tough, especially when most of the points come from the three-point line,” Kansas guard Malik Newman said. “You feel like you don’t really give yourself a chance to win.”
If there was any upside for the Jayhawks, it was that this didn’t qualify as their worst loss in their 153 NCAA tournament games. That came during an 18-point drubbing by Indiana in the 1940 national championship.
Eric Paschall made four of five three-point shots on the way to a career-high 24 points for the Wildcats. Donte DiVincenzo, Jalen Brunson and Omari Spellman each had three three-point baskets for Villanova, whose 442 three-point baskets this season are a Division I record.
“Everyone was making plays for each other,” Brunson said. “We were all ready to catch and shoot.”
Devonte’ Graham scored 23 points for Kansas (31-8), which made only seven of 21 three-point shots.
Villanova was up 47-32 at halftime after making 13 of 26 three-point shots over the opening 20 minutes. The Wildcats took only seven shots inside the arc during that stretch.
“They got anything they wanted early,” Self said. “We got spread out and our game plan went to crap on how we were going to guard certain actions, then we got caught in between and that’s the worst thing you can do defensively is be caught in between.”
With seven minutes to play, Paschall made a floater as the shot-clock expired and officials gathered at a replay monitor to see whether Paschall had released the ball in time. The basket didn’t count but it didn’t matter. It was an exercise in futility akin to Kansas’ defense.
Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter @latbbolch
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