Hart, Jenkins lead Villanova past Charleston, 63-47
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) Jay Wright and his Villanova players are ready to enjoy Thanksgiving and take a much-needed break from basketball.
Josh Hart had 13 points and 11 rebounds, Kris Jenkins scored 11 points and No. 2 Villanova knocked off feisty College of Charleston 63-47 on Wednesday night.
The Wildcats improved to 6-0 a season after winning the national championship but struggled to put away the overmatched Cougars in their fourth game in seven days and their sixth in 13.
''It was not a pretty game,'' Wright said. ''We just found a way to gut it out.''
Mikal Bridges and Eric Paschall added eight points and five rebounds apiece for the Wildcats, who shot just 5 for 17 from 3-point range and 8 for 22 from the field in the second half.
Jarrell Brantley led Charleston with 18 points and seven rebounds. The Cougars shot 4 for 22 from 3-point range and committed 14 turnovers.
''It's a good way to learn,'' Brantley said. ''They're a really good team and do a lot of things right. It will only help.''
Jenkins, who famously hit the title-winning shot to beat North Carolina at the buzzer last April, was held out of the starting lineup by Wright because he missed a class. But the senior forward came in just 3 minutes into the game and played 28 minutes, shooting 4 for 7 from the field.
Hart, who won MVP of the 2016 Gildan Charleston Classic after leading the Wildcats to the tournament title on Sunday, also shot 4 for 7 from the field and 2 for 3 from 3-point range.
He was called back into the game in the final minutes after Wright admitted to putting his walk-ons in too early - not that it bothered the team's star senior.
''I'm not really worried about minutes,'' said Hart, a Wooden Award candidate. ''I'd love to play the whole game if the coach lets me.''
Charleston: After starting a season with three straight wins for the first time since 2011-12, the Cougars have dropped three in a row to fall back to .500. But they will have some easier games coming up before entering play in the Colonial Athletic Association, where they were picked to finish fourth.
Villanova: The defending national champs continued to roll through the early portion of their schedule. Four of their next five games come against Philadelphia Big 5 rivals, where the competition is always heated, with a marquee matchup vs. Notre Dame sandwiched in between.
Although the Cougars left town with a loss, Charleston coach Earl Grant felt the game was, in many ways, a win-win for his program.
''My thought process coming into this game is it's the ultimate challenge,'' Grant said. ''You get to play against the best team in college basketball. They won the championship last year and until someone beats them this year they're still the champion. . We knew it would be hard but I think, at this time of year, hard things are good.''
Over the past four seasons, Villanova is 25-0 in the month of November and have claimed four tournament championships in the month, including their recent run through the Gildan Charleston Classic.
Wednesday's game was technically Villanova's fourth victory of the Charleston Classic - after wins over Western Michigan, Wake Forest and UCF at TD Arena - but the result didn't factor into the bracket.
NO BOOTH, NO PROBLEM (FOR NOW)
Phil Booth missed his third straight game for Villanova with left knee inflammation. But Wright said the injury is minor and he's eager to get one of his top guards back after the Thanksgiving break.
''I thought we held up pretty well,'' Wright said of his team's grueling stretch. ''If we weren't getting Phil Booth back, I think I'd be more concerned.'
After moving up a spot to No. 2 this week, Villanova figures to stay there behind top-ranked Kentucky barring any major upsets.
Charleston aims to snap its three-game losing streak when it hosts USC Upstate on Sunday.
Villanova will look for a record 15th straight Big 5 win against Penn at the historic Palestra on Tuesday.