CHICAGO, Ill. -- Seven different Villanova players scored in double figures as the No. 1 ranked Wildcats improved to 13-0 on the 2017-18 season, downing DePaul 103-85 in the BIG EAST opener for both teams Wednesday night. The game marked VU's first ever appearance at the new Wintrust Arena.
The Wildcats led from wire to wire, expanding the margin to 30 points at one point in the second half. Mikal Bridges (20 points), Phil Booth (17), Jalen Brunson and Eric Paschall (16), Omari Spellman (12), and Donte DiVincenzo and Jermaine Samuels (11) were the Wildcats who scored in double digits.
Villanova netted 15 3-point field goals on the night (15-of-31). In their last three games -- wins over Temple, Hofstra, and DePaul -- the Wildcats have drained 44 triples.
"We made shots tonight," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright of an effort that saw his team sink 38-of-70 from the field (.543). "When you make shots like that, everything's going to look better. We didn't defend too well, we didn't rebound too well, but we just drilled shots."
"Any night when you make shots like that you're going to be pretty successful."
Max Strus led DePaul (7-6 overall, 0-1 BIG EAST) with 20 points.
The first six points of the contest were scored by Villanova, helping the Wildcats craft an 11-5 edge at the first official timeout with 14:46 on the clock in the first half. Seven early points by both Bridges and DiVincenzo helped the Wildcats establish a 21-10 lead through the first nine minutes of play.
DePaul scored on five consecutive possessions to narrow its deficit to 28-21. Brunson took the lead from there, helping the Wildcats finish the period on a surge. The junior, who starred at Adlai Stevenson High School in nearby Lincolnshire, Ill., dropped in 10 of his 12 first half points in the final eight minutes, helping the Wildcats claim a 48-33 lead after 20 minutes.
"Jalen is the consummate Villanova guard," stated Wright. "Probably more than any guard we have ever had -- Kyle Lowry was the same way -- he controls the tempo of the game. When he wants to go fast, he can go fast. When he gets out in transition, he out-runs people with the ball. He's a tremendous weapon for us and is a great leader for us too."
Brunson said when the action was underway he blocked the surroundings out as he always does.
"No matter where we are, we're just trying to play Villanova Basketball within those lines," stated the guard who added five assists on the night.
The Wildcats built their lead with both Bridges and DiVincenzo limited to eight and ten first half minutes a piece due to each being saddled with a pair of personal fouls. But freshman Jermaine Samuels gave the Wildcats a nice lift with seven first half points and two rebounds.
"Jermaine's a really good player," noted Booth. "He brought a lot of energy today. He's always working in practice, trying to get better. We consider him a very big part of this team with his athleticism and work ethic."
The only blemish on an otherwise stellar halftime report card for the Wildcats was found in the rebounding column, where DePaul enjoyed a 24-17 advantage. When the final stats were tabulated, the Blue Demons enjoyed a 50-32 edge in that department.
"That's an area we have to get a lot better in," Wright noted.
A 15-6 spurt in the first 4:09 of the second half helped the Wildcats extend their lead to 63-39. It was keyed in large part by turnovers. Through the contest's first 24 minutes, Villanova enjoyed a 24-4 in points scored off of Blue Demons' miscues.
Both teams scored liberally in the game's final 10 minutes, as the Wildcats eclipsed the century mark for the third time in '17-18 in what ended as a 103-85 win.
The Wildcats are slated to head to Indianapolis on Thursday to begin preparation for the second of this two game road swing. Villanova will meet Butler at 4 p.m. Saturday in a contest to be broadcast nationally on CBS and heard locally on 610 Radio Sports.
The 2017-18 Villanova Basketball season is presented by KeyBank.