Georgia Tech-Villanova Preview
Villanova overcame its worst shooting effort of the season and being dominated on the boards to reach the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
It's not going to be any easier on the glass against Georgia Tech.
The eighth-ranked Wildcats look to remain undefeated by getting their first win over the Yellow Jackets on Friday in New York.
Villanova (5-0) arrived at Barclays Center averaging 84.8 points while shooting 46.6 percent from the field through four games. The Wildcats weren't anywhere near those numbers Thursday at 30.6 percent, including 7 of 34 from beyond the arc, and were outrebounded 55-35, but still came through with a 59-45 win over Stanford.
"I didn't think it would be this ugly on the boards but if we could have made a couple of shots it might not have been as ugly," coach Jay Wright said. "But I was proud the guys really grinded defensively."
The Wildcats are in for another tough battle in the post against Georgia Tech (4-1), which is dominating opponents by an average of 13.8 rebounds.
The Yellow Jackets were even better Thursday, holding a 50-32 advantage on their way to an 83-73 win over Arkansas. Charles Mitchell did a lot of the damage with 18 points and 18 rebounds - 11 defensive - for his fifth straight double-double to start the season.
"Chuck has always been a great offensive rebounder because he just goes," coach Brian Gregory said. "He's got a hunger and a pretty good feel. He has not been a great defensive rebounder because it's a different dynamic."
Mitchell, who lost more than 20 pounds during the offseason, is averaging 15.2 points and 12.8 rebounds after scoring 9.8 per game with 7.0 boards last season.
"I'm just trying to give my team second-chance possessions," said the senior forward.
Marcus Georges-Hunt leads Georgia Tech with 17.2 points per game. He scored 19 against the Razorbacks, hitting three 3-pointers and all six free throws to overcome a 5-for-13 performance from the field.
Villanova could use better performances from Ryan Arcidiacono and Josh Hart. Arcidiacono had a season-low eight points Thursday while missing 9 of 11 attempts from the floor and 8 of 9 from behind the arc. Hart wasn't much better with 10 points while making 4 of 13 from the floor and missing all six 3-point attempts.
Despite the effort, Hart is averaging 15.2 points while Arcidiacono is scoring 12.2.
Jalen Brunson, however, is coming off his best performance. The freshman guard had 18 points against the Cardinal, doubling his total from each of the previous three games.
"I was doing what I always do," Brunson said. "I try to play aggressive all the time."
Villanova has lost all three meetings with Georgia Tech but the most recent came in December 1991.