Nov. 29, 2013
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas - The No. 2 ranked Kansas Jayhawks await the Villanova Wildcats in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Friday evening. Both teams bring identical 5-0 records into the clash, the first between the two schools since the 2008 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 at Detroit's Ford Field.
Kansas features a deep and youthful roster headlined by freshman standout Andrew Wiggins, who scored 17 points to help the Jayhawks down Wake Forest in their opening day game here at Imperial Arena on Thanksgiving Day.
Villanova, meanwhile, enters this contest after a triumph here over USC that featured a balanced attack led by James Bell's 17 points. Head coach Jay Wright utilized 10 players with nine of them logging between 15 and 28 minutes of activity.
The Wildcats made an impact with their offensive efficiency in the first half against the Trojans and helped them build a 48-37 edge at the break. Villanova drained 8-of-16 from beyond the 3-point arc and ended the afternoon with a season-high 11 treys made.
Wright said little had changed in the approach in the six days since the Wildcats connected on just 5-of-25 from beyond the arc in last week's 84-80 victory over Delaware at the Pavilion.
"We felt we were a good shooting team that just hadn't been making shots," noted Wright. "It's going to happen to teams during the year. We went back and looked at all of the threes we had taken and they were all good shots. We just weren't making them. I didn't think we took any bad threes (today) either - we just made more of them."
The Wildcats received a lift from the season debut of sophomore transfer Dylan Ennis, who had missed the first four games of the regular season after suffering a fractured bone in his right (shooting) hand during a practice on Oct. 24. Ennis was 4-of-5 from the field and 3-of-4 outside the arc.
In addition, freshman Kris Jenkins dropped in a pair of triples as he added six points in 15 minutes off the bench. Others who contributed to the 29 bench points scored by Villanova were Josh Hart (four points, five rebounds); Tony Chennault (three points, three assists, one steal); and Darryl Reynolds (two points, two rebounds in four minutes of play).
This game is Villanova's first against a Top 10 opponent since last March 6. The Wildcats upended No. 5 Georgetown 67-57 in the 2012-13 regular season finale at the Wells Fargo, the third victory over a team ranked in the Associated Press Top 10 the squad posted in '12-13.
The Wildcats have one victory in four tries against Kansas. That win came on Jan. 22, 2005 in South Philadelphia when VU downed the Jayhawks - ranked No. 2 in the nation that day - 83-62.
The winner of this game advances to the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis here Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. Iowa and UTEP square off in tonight's first semifinal at 7 p.m. The Wildcats will face either the Hawkeyes or Miners in Saturday's third and final game here.