LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The Villanova Wildcats continued their crisp offensive work on Thursday night, connecting on .627 of their field goal attempts on their way to a convincing 92-69 victory over Miami in a South Region semifinal at the KFC Yum! Center.
Junior Kris Jenkins connected on 8-of-10 attempts from the floor and finished with 21 points. Senior Ryan Arcidiacono also delivered 21 points while converting 7-of-11 from the floor. Senior Daniel Ochefu added 17 points and junior Josh Hart had 14 points despite early foul trouble.
Villanova advances to the regional final on Saturday where it meets No. 1 seed Kansas at 8:49 p.m. (CBS/610 Sports Radio WTEL).
"That was a great win for us," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright, who will take the Wildcats to the Elite Eight for the third time. "We're thrilled against an outstanding Miami team. You could tell by that first half both teams just couldn't stop each other. Both of us are man-to-man teams. Both of us went zone because we couldn't guard each other.
"I just thought we kept it going. Look at the offensive numbers. Miami shot 53 percent. 58 percent from three. It was just two very good teams. I thought we just defensively, in the second half, really, really stepped up. If you look at the numbers, it's kind of crazy to think that was good defense.
"But I'm very proud of the second half defense. When you play great teams like Miami, that's going to happen. And we just got more stops than them."
An early scoring burst lifted the Wildcats to an early 8-0 advantage as Arcidiacono and freshman guard Jalen Brunson each drained a 3-pointer in the game's first three minutes. Miami answered with a 5-0 run of its own sparked by a Sheldon McClellan 3-point goal.
Arcidiacono's scoring in the first eight minutes helped boost VU to a 17-10 lead with 11:58 on the first half clock. The senior from Langhorne, Pa., netted 10 of those points. The only negative in that stretch was the fact that Hart -- the Wildcats' leading scorer -- was whistled for two quick fouls in the game's first three minutes, sending him to the bench.
The Wildcats helped force seven turnovers and extended their margin to 29-14 with just over eight minutes to play before Miami answered with three consecutive 3-pointers. That cut the 15-point advantage to six in just over a minute of elapsed game time. There was 7:06 to be played in the first half.
Another deep ball from Miami's Angel Rodriguez on its next possession brought the Hurricanes back to within 29-26.
Villanova would push its lead to 43-37 at intermission thanks in large part to 24 combined points from Arcidiacono (13) and Jenkins (11). But Miami was able to stay within striking range by converting 14-of-21 field goal attempts in the period (.667), including 7-of-11 from beyond the 3-point arc (.635).
After being limited to seven first half minutes by those two early fouls called on him, Hart quickly made his presence in the second half. He collected six points in the first four minutes of the period and VU grew its margin to 61-48 with 10:29 left to play in the second half.
The Wildcats were able to get just enough defensive stops while their offense put up 49 second half points for what ultimately became a 92-69 victory. Ironically, that 23 point margin was the exact same margin by which Villanova defeated Duke in the 2009 Sweet 16 to move into the Elite Eight.
Arcidiacono credited the smooth offense -- the Wildcats have converted better than 55 percent of their field goal attempts in all three of their NCAA Tournament games thus far in 2016 -- to better decision-making.
"I think we're just taking better shots. Throughout the season, we didn't really mix it up, catching and shoot and getting in the lane and kicking out to guys," stated the senior from Langhorne, Pa.
"I think we are doing that now. We're taking what the defense is giving us while being aggressive. We're trying to get the threes up. If they're not wide open, we'll try to get in the lane and make a play for someone else."
Villanova was 10-of-15 from beyond the arc on the night (.667). It also was 18-of-19 from the free throw line (.947).
"When guys have offensive games like today, it doesn't really surprise us because we have a lot of talented offensive players," noted Ochefu. "But I think guys stepping up on the defensive end, getting the turnovers, getting easy buckets in transition, making them grind a little more on defense was definitely big for us."
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