After a big upset of Arkansas last Wednesday, Akron was riding high coming into their match-up with #11 Villanova in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, that high only lasted another sixteen minutes.
Akron jumped out to an eight-point first half lead, but couldn't sustain that momentum throughout the contest. The Zips trailed by as many as 23 points in the second half before ultimately falling 75-56. The loss is Akron's first of the season, bringing the Zips' record to 3-1.
Both Akron and Villanova love shooting the three-ball, and the first half showed that. Seven of Akron first nine shots were from beyond the arc. The Zips finished 7-17 from deep (41 percent) in the first half, while Villanova was 4-12 (33 percent).
Antino Jackson picked up where he left off in the first half from the Arkansas game, as he showed no fear draining three 3-pointers with a defender in his face. Those threes were his only points of the half, which led the team.
Villanova's big guards - Jalen Brunson and Ryan Arcidiacono - frustrated the Zips' backcourt in the first half. Jackson picked up two fouls in the first ten minutes and had six first half turnovers. Freshman Josh Williams, Jackson's backup, also had two fouls early and had to play a little more conservative than normal.
Surprisingly Villanova only led for a little under two minutes of the first half. Akron had built a 16-8 lead at one point in the first half, but the Wildcats kept chipping away. They took the lead after Josh Hart, who scored 15 in the first half, notched an and-one lay-in to give the Wildcats a 34-31 advantage. Akron didn't score during the last four minutes of the first half, and Villanova ended the half on a 8-0 run.
Villanova kicked it up a notch in the second half and really showed that they are the eleventh best team in the country. An 18-5 run to start the half put the game out of reach with Villanova up 56-36. The Zips never got the lead down to less than 18 and trailed by as many as 23. They never gave in though, and kept playing hard. Jake Kretzer was still himself, diving on the floor for loose balls and poking offensive rebounds back to three-point shooters.
Part of the issue was the inability of Akron to get the ball in the post and when they did, centers Pat Forsythe and Isaiah Johnson didn't provide enough to make a difference. Forsythe finished the game 0-6 with four rebounds and Johnson was a little better, scoring six points and grabbing eight rebounds. Also telling was the fact that Akron only shot ten foul shots - and that's not a shot at the refs either. Akron just didn't try to get the ball inside and get fouled enough, and that lead to their undoing.
Akron finished the game going 11-33 from beyond the arc (33 percent), which isn't terrible. Turning the ball over 16 times was very costly, but not all unexpected due to a young backcourt playing against a couple of the most talented guards in the country.
All in all it wasn't an embarrassment, and Akron showed during the first sixteen minutes of the game what type of team they can be. It's certainly a learning and humbling experience and something that Keith Dambrot come back to during MAC play. Jay Wright did have some positive things to say about Akron on the broadcast:
Jay Wright on Akron: "They're a very good team. Very well coached, disciplined and intelligent. I would not want to play them at Akron."— Hustle Belt (@HustleBelt) November 22, 2015
Jackson led a balanced scoring effort from Akron, finishing with 13 points. Kwan Cheatham had eleven points and five boards, while Williams finished with eight points and five rebounds.
Hart led the Wildcats with 27 on 11-21 shooting and nine rebounds. Arcidiacono had a solid game, scoring 15 points, collecting five rebounds and dishing out eight assists.
Akron doesn't have a lot of time off before taking on Wisconsin-Green Bay in Green Bay. That game is scheduled to tip at 8:00 Eastern on ESPN3.
|Points||J. Hart (27)||An. Jackson (13)|
|Rebounds||J. Hart (9)||I. Johnson (8)|
|Assists||R. Arcidiacono (8)||Five tied (2)|
|Blocks||P. Booth (2)||P. Forsythe (2)|
|Steals||M. Bridges (3)||Two tied (2)|