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Villanova sinks Virginia with tip-in at buzzer to cap wild rally; Five takeaways from game

Donte DiVincenzo tipped in a Josh Hart miss just as the final second ticked off the clock to cap No. 1 Villanova’s epic comeback to clip No. 12 Virginia 61-59 in Philadelphia.

Virginia led by as much as 13 points in the second half, but Villanova rallied in the final 12 minutes to stun the Cavaliers. DiVincenzo’s only made field goal of the game was enough to sink Virginia.

1. Tale of two halves: Virginia built a 31-22 lead in the first half behind great defense. Tony Bennett’s DNA of the program stifled the defending champions’ offense, as Villanova made just 4-of-22 (18.1%) from the field. Kris Jenkins shot 0-for-7 from the field, including 0-of-5 on three pointers. National Player of the Year candidate Josh Hart missed all five of his first half-field goal attempts.

Virginia did a great job pushing Villanova’s offense from the paint, forcing tough jumpers. Villanova’s balanced offense could not figure out the Virginia’s defense and was unable to get the ball inside for easier shots. THe first half was all Virginia as their offense complimented their stifling defense by shooting 12-of-24 for 50 percent to build the nine-point lead.

Second half was a different story, as Villanova figured out their rotating defense of Virginia. The utilized dribble penetration to get the ball inside the lane. As a result they shot an amazing 13-of-18 (72.2%) from the field in the final half.

The dribble penetration from their dynamic backcourt of Hart and Jalen Brunson creating spacing and easier shots. It also forced the Cavaliers’ defense to move and they ultimately struggled to do so the final 13 minutes of the game. Made shots and free throws were the theme for Villanova in the second half, outscoring Virginia 39-28.

2. Turning point of game: Virginia maintained it’s 50 percent shooting from the first half, shooting 13-of-26 from the field in the second half. But the turning point of the game came around the 13-minute mark. Villanova tighten their defense, and created offensive opportunities in transition.

Virginia led 45-32 when Mikal Bridges drained an open three for Villanova. Virginia answered with an Isaiah Wilkins dunk to extend Virginia’s lead to 47-35 with 12:16 remaining. However from there Virginia lost a grip on their offense. The Cavaliers made just 1-of-7 field goals and had four turnovers over the course of the next 7:01. Villanova chipped away at the lead with a 15-2 run that ended with Villanova ahead for their first lead since they led 2-0 within the first two minutes of the first half. Villanova had a stranglehold on momentum and Virginia searching for an answer.

The two traded baskets for much of the final five minutes, culminating in DiVincenzo’s tip-in.

3. Coming out party for Ty Jerome: Before Sunday’s clash freshman guard Ty Jerome averaged 2.4 points. But the New Rochelle, N.Y. native was coming off his best performance of the season last game against Notre Dame with eight points in 14 minutes. He nearly doubled that performance, scoring a team-high 15 points in 24 minutes off the bench.

Jerome made big shot after big shot, scoring six of Virginia’s final eight points. He seized the opportunity on a big stage against the defending champions, never letting the moment be bigger than him. With Villanova ahead 59-57 following a Brunson layup to give the Wildcats the lead, Jerome responded waiving off his teammates before driving past Villanova’s trap to hit a running jumper to tie the game at 59-59 with 14 seconds remaining.

Ultimately, he would love to have the final possession to do over. He failed to box out DiVincenzo, allowing him to get the game-winning tip-in. But, the showing by the frosh certainly expands Virginia’s options moving forward as they get back to ACC play.

4. No free throws: Numbers only tell part of the story. Virginia lost the game despite making eight more field goals, while shooting 50 percent from the field. Three-point shots were nearly identical, so were turnovers and rebounds. But the telling line was the disparity in free throws and fouls.

Virginia shot three free throws — all in the first half. They went the final 23:29 of the game. Meanwhile Villanova was the total opposite making 20-of-24 from the charity stripe, including 7-of-10 in the second half.

Villanova entered Sunday, third in the nation in free throw shooting, and their strength proved to be an aide for their comeback. While the Wildcats struggled from the field, they put pressure on Virginia’s defense, creating fouls and opportunities at the free throw line. A plus-17 at the charity stripe helped offset Virginia’s advantage on field goal shooting.

5. Moving forward: Villanova avoided a second straight loss. And while they will more than likely lose it’s No. 1 ranking, they certainly proved they are still the team to beat come March.

As for Virginia, they let an opportunity to make a huge statement slip away. They return back to ACC play just a half of a game behind North Carolina for first place. So it will be imperative for them to shake off this disappointing game and get back to their goal of winning the conference and making it past the Sweet 16. If anything, it proves, as did their win over Nova last year, they can compete with the best in the nation.

In what started into a hobby of reading the Sports page every day since the age of four, has turned into a life revolved around sports. King Motley has turned his passion and extensive knowledge into KCM Sports. King's work has been featured on Fox Sports, Yardbarker, Fansided, and Yahoo.

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