PHILADELPHIA — Mikal Bridges rejected consecutive shots by Roddy Peters in the lane, producing “oohs” from the crowd.
And No. 5 Villanova wasn’t done, not even on this possession.
Omari Spellman brought the fans and bench players to their feet by swatting Tevon Saddler’s follow attempt from behind, giving the Wildcats three blocks in 8 seconds and setting the tone in a record-setting 113-77 rout of Nicholls on Tuesday night.
“That’s what we should be fired up about,” Bridges said. “defensive things, not offensive.”
Bridges set career highs with 23 points, four blocks and five steals, and Villanova (2-0) set a school record by blocking 13 shots. Spellman also had four rejections.
“We have the potential to be a very good defensive team,” Wildcats coach Jay Wright said. “I think you saw some of that tonight. It was more athleticism tonight than defensive technique.”
Donte DiVincenzo added 20 points, Jalen Brunson had 17 and the Wildcats had six players in double figures while shooting 58 percent from the field in their second straight blowout of an inferior opponent.
“I can’t imagine many teams in the country being better than them,” Nicholls coach Richie Riley said. “I think they have a chance to hang another banner. I think they’re that good.”
Zaquavian Smith scored 25 points and Peters had 17 for the Colonels (1-1), who trailed by as many as 38 points.
Villanova, which cruised past Columbia 75-60 on Friday, raced to a 22-9 lead and was never threatened. Bridges shot 4 of 7 from 3-point range and the Wildcats were 13 of 30 from behind the arc.
That’s an improvement from the 7-of-32 long-distance shooting in the opener.
“A lot of extra passes,” Wright said.
The Colonels, picked to finish 10th out of 13 teams in the Southland Conference, entered as a 32-point underdog and were quickly overwhelmed in the schools’ first meeting.
With just over 8 minutes remaining in the first half, Nicholls had more turnovers (7) than field goals (5).
Shortly after the three quick blocks, Villanova led 35-11.
“When you play in games like this and you’re a school like us, sometimes you get out there and you really want to do well so bad that you put yourself in a tough (situation),” Riley said. “Our guys over-penetrated and over-drove the ball and they made plays at the rim.”
Nicholls: Hours after Jay Clune was appointed Nicholls’ new president, the basketball team collected a check to bring back to Thibodaux, Louisiana. But Riley’s transfer-dominated team needs work to end a 19-year NCAA Tournament drought.
Villanova: Plenty of highlight dunks and impressive blocks in two easy wins to start the season. The Wildcats have a lot of weapons, but have yet to be tested.
The Wildcats’ previous team record was 12 blocks, done four times and most recently against Delaware in the 2000 NIT. The individual mark is 10 blocks by Harold Pressley against Providence on Jan. 11, 1986.
Nicholls ranked 335th out of 351 teams last season by allowing 82.1 points a game. And while they won their opener 111-106 over Texas-Rio Grande Valley, they couldn’t outshoot Villanova.
The Wildcats scored at will for much of the night, getting good looks inside and open 3s from the perimeter. The Colonels tried to push the pace, but they finished with 17 turnovers and drives to the rim often ended with a blocked shot.
Nicholls has its home opener Friday against Division II Spring Hill (Ala.).
Villanova faces Lafayette in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Friday before traveling to the Bahamas for three games in the Battle for Atlantis next week. The Wildcats could play No. 19 Purdue and No. 3 Arizona in the last two rounds.
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