Jalen Brunson took a 3-pointer 84 seconds after tip-off, then another 61 seconds after that. He missed them both. And if you believe in foreshadowing, well, that was it.
Lots of Villanova shots from beyond the arc.
Lots of Villanova misses from beyond the arc.
By the time it was over, 40 basketball-minutes later, the Wildcats had launched 32 3-point attempts and missed 28 of them, which is an obvious recipe for defeat. So Oklahoma cruised to a 78-55 victory over Villanova Monday night in the Pearl Harbor Classic, and this battle of undefeated top-10 teams was lopsided pretty much from start to finish.
“We covered [the 3-point line] pretty well,” said coach Lon Kruger, whose Sooners are now 6-0 and ranked seventh in the AP poll. “And they missed some shots they normally make.”
Technically, I guess that’s true.
But the idea that Villanova is a great, or even good, 3-point-shooting team isn’t rooted in reality. Yes, the Wildcats entered Monday’s game averaging 9.7 made 3-pointers per contest, which sounds nice until you realize they also entered Monday’s game attempting 31.4 3-pointers per contest. That means they entered Monday’s game making only 30.9 percent of their 3-point attempts, which ranked 250th nationally. And, again, that was before they went 4-of-32 from beyond the arc in Monday night’s loss to Oklahoma.
Updated stats: Villanova is now shooting 28.6 percent from 3-point range.
That ranks 305th nationally.
(That’s 305th out of 351 Division I teams.)
And yet more than half of Villanova’s field goal attempts (500) are 3-point attempts (252).
Kinda crazy, right?
It’s like a pitcher who can’t throw a changeup throwing changeups over and over again. Or a golfer who can’t hit a driver using his driver on every hole. Or a boxer who can’t take a punch trading blows in the middle of the ring with a power-puncher.
It’s an approach tied to failure.
Truth is, Villanova has been so good defensively that its approach didn’t matter — especially considering the Wildcats’ first seven opponents were either average or bad. But their eighth opponent was an Oklahoma team that’s now ranked No. 1 at KenPom. And missing 28 3-pointers in a 40-minute game against an opponent like that will get you destroyed.
Thus, the 23-point destruction.
So it’ll be interesting to see how Jay Wright addresses this issue.
Obviously, it’s a tricky deal. But I’ll put it simply. Either Villanova has to start making 3-pointers or stop taking so many. Either or. Doesn’t matter. But something has to give. Because, needless to say, missing 71.4 percent of 31.5 3-point attempts per game isn’t going to cut it against quality opposition like Big East rivals Xavier, Providence and Butler.