No. 3 Villanova Beats No. 18 ASU 83-74 to Win Empire Classic

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Villanova Wildcats forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (24) drives to the basket against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the second half at Mohegan Sun.

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Jeremiah Robinson-Earl scored a career-high 28 points to lead No. 3 Villanova over No. 18 Arizona State 83-74 on Thursday night in the championship game of the Empire Classic.

Justin Moore added 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Wildcats (2-0), and Caleb Daniels chipped in with 14 points—10 in the second half.

The Wildcats dictated the pace of the game and dominated on the glass, outrebounding Arizona State 43-27. Robinson-Earl finished with eight boards.

Freshman guard Josh Christopher had 28 points and Alonzo Verge Jr. scored 22 for the Sun Devils (1-1).

Villanova held ASU star Remy Martin to just five first-half points on 2-of-8 shooting.

The Wildcats led by nine at halftime and took their first double-digit lead at 49-38 on a 3-pointer by Robinson-Earl that capped an 8-0 run early in the second half.

They stretched that to 66-49 on a 3 by Daniels before ASU made a little run.

The Sun Devils cut the deficit to 70-60 on a jumper by Verge, but could not come all the way back.

The game, played as part of the 11-day “Bubbleville” event in Connecticut, was close early. Villanova led just 31-29 after a 3-pointer by Martin.

But the Wildcats closed the first half on a 10-3 surge over the final 5 1/2 minutes to lead 41-32 at the break.

BIG PICTURE

Villanova: The Wildcats controlled the pace. They consistently created easy shots in their half-court offense by backing ASU players into the lane.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils got in the lane early, hitting their first five shots. But they had a hard time getting into their transition game and had just 11 fast-break points. Christopher, the program’s highest-rated recruit since James Harden, showed why by hitting 11 of his 17 shots.

UP NEXT

Villanova heads back to Philadelphia to play Saint Joseph’s on Monday night. The Wildcats had also been scheduled to face Temple in a week, but the Owls have paused all team activities for 14 days because of a positive coronavirus test.

Arizona State heads home to take on Houston Baptist on Sunday.