Jimmy V Classic: Villanova Controls the Boards in Defeating Longtime Rival

NEW YORK CITY – The renewal of a longstanding rivalry between two former Big East Conference foes put all the is good about college basketball on full display in front of nearly 15,000 fans as No. 6 Villanova defeated Syracuse 67-53 on Nov. 9 in the nightcap of the 2021 Jimmy V Classic at famed Madison Square Garden.

After leading just 29-26 at the intermission, the Wildcats used a 41-24 run over the final 20 minutes to post their seventh win on the season. The two losses have been to UCLA (86-77 OT) and to Purdue (80-74). The Bruins were ranked No. 2 in the nation when the two teams met, while Purdue, which is undefeated on the season, climbed to the top spot in the national poll this week for the first time in program history.

The Orange and Wildcats traded the lead 15 times in the game until Collin Gillespie’s 3-pointer from the top of the arc put Villanova in front 46-45. It was a lead the Wildcats would not relinquish the rest of the way.

It was only fitting that Gillespie’s trey went down as a second-change tally. That was one of many storylines in the contest.

Villanova held a commanding 27-11 advantage in offensive rebounding in the game and that translated into 25 second-change points on the night. The Orange was able to turn their offensive caroms into just seven points.

The Wildcats finished the game with a 57-36 overall advantage in rebounding.

Despite the win over its former rival, which still holds some intense loyalties as evidenced by the near-capacity crowd, Villanova had its share of troubles shooting the basketball. The Wildcats finished with just 33 percent (25-77) shooting from the floor, which included being successful on just 13 of an incredible 50 attempts from behind the arc.

Syracuse, which is now a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, finished with 36 percent (20-56) from the floor, including 5 of 15 from long range. 

Justin Moore led four Wildcats in double figures. He finished with 18 points, including four 3-pointers, in the contest. Gillespie, who also nailed four treys, added 14 points while Jermaine Samuels and Caleb Daniels ended the game with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Samuels pulled down a team-high nine rebounds, including four offensive caroms. He was one of seven players to have at least one offensive rebound in the game for the Wildcats.

Syracuse was paced by Jimmy Boeheim’s game-high 21 points. Joseph Girard (11) and Jesse Edwards (10) also reached double digits for the Orange, who played just eight players in the game. Syracuse was unable to get scoring production from those substitutes who combined to attempt just two field goals during their time on the floor.

TEXAS TECH 57, TENNESSEE 52 (OT)

Famed poet John Greenleaf Whittier once wrote: “When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill …”

Texas Tech and Tennessee found themselves seemingly trudging uphill all night long as the two teams opened the 2021 Jimmy V Classic. Unfortunately, the climb was a bit too much for the Volunteers to successfully scale.

Terrence Shannon scored nine points in overtime as Texas Tech outscored Tennessee 13-8 to escape with a 57-52 win over the Volunteers.

That Tennessee managed to send the game to an extra session seemed unlikely considering the ways their shots missed the mark most of the night. Thankfully the Red Raiders also struggled on the offensive end.

The two teams combined for just 29 percent (38-132) shooting from the floor, including a dismal 15 percent (10-64) from behind the arc. Texas Tech finished with 19 of 61 (.311) field goal shooting and was 4-24 (.167) from 3-point range. The Volunteers, meanwhile, managed 19 field goals of their own in the game after putting up 71 shots (.268) and was 6-40 (.150).

“Obviously it wasn’t a very pretty game from either side,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said in what just might be the biggest understatement of the young season. “Defensively we did enough … offensively we didn’t shoot well enough.”

Josiah-Jordan James’ 3-pointer with just 31 seconds remaining in regulation brought the two teams into a 44-44 tie. 

It took Tennessee nearly three minutes to put the first points on the board. Olivier Nkamhoua’s short turnaround jumper in the lane gave the Vols an early 2-0 advantage. The span of nearly 180 seconds proved to be a harbinger of things to come as both teams would go on to experience long stretches where they were unable to add points to the scoreboard.

The Red Raiders got back-to-back 3-pointers from Bryson Williams and Davion Warren to take a 6-4 lead with 16:20 remaining in the first half. A pair of free throws from Daniel Batcho with 2:31 to go in the half gave the Red Raiders a 29-20 advantage.

That nine-point lead, which they would match early in the second half, would turn out to be their largest cushion of the night as the Red Raiders, despite the shooting woes of the Volunteers, were unable to pull away.

After trailing 34-25 with 18:07 left in regulation, Tennessee went on a little 6-0 run that was capped by a Santiago Vescovi free throw with 14:12 remaining in the second half.

Texas Tech would not lead by more than five points again until overtime.

Vescovi’s 3-pointer with 1:55 tied the game for the first time in the game. Kevin McCullar returned the lead to the Red Raiders on a pair of free throws with 1:26 left in the second half. The extended the lead to 44-41 when Shannon connected the first of two free throws. His miss of the second free throw attempt set the stage for James’ 3-pointer to tie the game again just six seconds later.

Shannon, who grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, was one of three Texas Tech players to score in double digits. He finished with 18 points while Kevin Obanor and Warren both tallied 10 points in the contest. Batcho and McCullar also reached double digits in rebounding with 11 and 10 rebounds, respectively, for Texas Tech which improved to 7-1 on the season with the win.

Tennessee, meanwhile, which dropped to 6-2 on the year with the loss, was led by John Fulkerson’s 10 points and 10 rebounds. He was the lone Volunteer to reach double digits in either category.

Whittier concluded his famed poem by imploring the need to never give up and Barnes insisted on looking at the positive, despite the outcome of the game.

“Well, the positive is I don’t know if we can any worse on offense than we were in the game,” the Tennessee coach said. 

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