No. 3 Villanova meets Wake Forest in Charleston Classic
Third-ranked Villanova attempts to win its fourth straight game to open the season when it battles Wake Forest in the semifinals of the Gildan Charleston (S.C.) Classic Friday afternoon.
The Wildcats improved to 3-0 following a hard-fought 76-65 victory over Western Michigan in Thursday's quarterfinals.
The Demon Deacons (3-0) advanced by virtue of a 103-81 victory over UTEP.
Substitute Eric Paschall, playing in only his third game for his new team since transferring from Fordham, paced Villanova with 17 points. Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart scored 14 points apiece and Kris Jenkins added 11 points.
Villanova opened the season with a 40-point home victory against Lafayette then went on the road for a thrilling three-point win at Purdue before struggling to get past the Broncos in the Charleston opener.
"Our guys have played in tough games," Villanova coach Jay Wright told reporters after the victory over Western Michigan. "That's one thing we've done well in a couple of games early on. Down the stretch in games we have executed. I'm decently pleased offensively. But we have to get a lot better defensively."
Villanova's defense struggled at times against the Broncos and that realization was obvious to Wright in the aftermath of the win.
"We're disjointed and don't communicate as well as we need to yet," Wright said. "That takes time. We're missing our two leaders who were the best at that -- Daniel Ochefu at forward and Ryan Arcidiacono on the perimeter. They were both great communicators out there. When we changed our defense, they were always calling that out. It's going to take us some time."
Forward John Collins scored a career-high 24 points on 9-of-10 shooting for the Demon Deacons against UTEP. Guard Bryant Crawford added 20 points and through three games, has 23 assists to only five turnovers.
Forward Dinos Mitoglou added 18 points and guard Keyshawn Woods contributed 16 for balanced Wake Forest.
Wake Forest's 103 points were the most for the program since a 120-point effort against UNC-Wilmington on Nov. 19, 2008 -- a span of 253 games.
Wake Forest pushed its lead to as many as 28 in the second half as it shot 73.9 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes.
The Demon Deacons are 3-0 for the first time since 2013-14 and looming is a date against the defending national champion.
"We're excited,'" Wake Forest coach Danny Manning told reporters. "It's the chance to play, rightfully so, one of the teams that higher ranked in the country. ... It's going to be a challenge, but it's something we welcome. We'll see where we're at."