Sport Three takeaways from Villanova's big win over Gonzaga

07:06  06 december  2017
07:06  06 december  2017 Source:   Sporting News

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Villanova used a dominant first half to beat Gonzaga in Tuesday' s Jimmy V Classic matchup.

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a man holding a basketball: Mikal Bridges© (Getty Images) Mikal Bridges No. 4 Villanova cruised Tuesday to an 88-72 victory over No. 12 Gonzaga, thanks to a huge first half at Madison Square Garden.

The Wildcats led by 13 points at the break and never looked back, improving to 9-0 on the season.

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Here are three takeaways from Villanova's win:

1. Mikal Bridges joined college basketball's elite — Merely a role player throughout much of his college career, Bridges — not to be confused with Michigan State's Miles Bridges — has certainly made a name for himself this season, highlighted by Tuesday night's 28-point explosion.

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Bridges hit 8 of 14 from the field (5 of 9 from 3-point range) while adding six rebounds. The Wildcats lost a lot of scoring from last season's team, but Bridges' emergence should help make Villanova scary on offense (again). Bridges was helped by fellow breakout star Phil Booth's 20 points.

2. Villanova finally has a post presence — Missing from last season's team that suffered a disappointing early exit from the NCAA Tournament was a dominant scoring threat around the basket. Enter Omari Spellman.

The Wildcats have historically been guard-heavy, dating back to the Allan Ray days of a five-guard lineup, but Villanova fans should be happy to see a load like Spellman occupying the paint. Spellman poured in 10 points with eight rebounds Tuesday, good for his third straight double-figure scoring effort. He gives Villanova an added dimension missing from seasons past.

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Ironically, the one game the Bulls have won this year was probably the one that they played the worst in. Sure, Robin Lopez had 16, but took 19 shots to get there. Which brings me to the first of my three takeaways from Thursday’ s game.

The Orange moved to 4-0 with a 74-50 win over the Oakland Golden Grizzlies. Dolezaj has made the “ winning ” plays in the first three games of the year, but in tonight’ s blowout, Dolezaj made his presence known with a few blocks, and some diving efforts.

3. Gonzaga needs the most out of Jonathan Williams every night — Not only is Williams the most important player on Gonzaga's stacked roster, he's also one of the best players in the country. But the double-double machine was limited to just five points and zero rebounds Tuesday while serving most of the game in foul trouble before ultimately fouling out.

With Williams out of the game, Gonzaga looked dangerously thin in its frontcourt, and the guards, led by Zach Norvell Jr.'s 22 points, could only do so much.

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