Villanova steps up the defense to knock off Michigan, 63-55

Villanova's Jermaine Samuels. No. 2 seed Villanova beat No. 11 seed Michigan 63-55 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Senior Jermaine Samuels produced 22 points on 8 of 13 shooting to help the No. 2-seeded Villanova Wildcats beat the 11th-seeded Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA Sweet 16. – photo by Joe Alexander

Forward Jermaine Samuels scored 22 points and the Villanova Wildcats, playing aggressive second-half defense, downed the Michigan Wolverines 63-55 Thursday night in an NCAA tournament Sweet 16 game at the AT&T Center.

Justin Moore had 15 points and Collin Gillespie 12 for the Wildcats, who took 30 three-point shots and made nine of them.

Michigan's Hunter Dickinson and Villanova's Eric Dixon. No. 2 seed Villanova beat No. 11 seed Michigan 63-55 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Hunter Dickinson of the Michigan Wolverines (left) battles against Villanova’s Eric Dixon. Dickinson had 15 points and 15 rebounds but was limited to 6 of 16 shooting by Jermaine Samuels, Dixon and others. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Hunter Dickinson led the Wolverines with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Eli Brooks scored 12. Michigan trailed by only three at the half but couldn’t get the offense going in the last 20 minutes.

Villanova held Michigan to 26.5 percent shooting in the second half.

With the victory, the Wildcats, seeded second in the NCAA South region, will move into the Elite Eight round. They will play Saturday against the Houston Cougars. Houston upset No. 1 seed Arizona 72-60 later Thursday night.

For the 11th-seeded Wolverines, the season is over. Michigan had high hopes last fall but couldn’t sustain the success once the season went into late February. The Wolverines (19-15) were 6-6 in their last dozen games, counting the postseason.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats (29-7) are rolling. Coach Jay Wright’s team has won eight in a row. In its last 14 games, Villanova is 13-1. Samuels was the man in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader, helping to hold the 7-foot-1, 260-pound Dickinson to 6 of 16 shooting.

“I wanted to stay mobile,” Samuelson said. “I understand my teammates are right behind me. They’re going to make plays for me. That gave me all the confidence in the world. He’s a phenomenal player. He’s going to get great looks at the basket.

“Knowing I had my teammates behind me, that gave me all the confidence I needed.”

Villanova’s Caleb Daniels supplied some energy and toughness in the second half, when he went off for eight points and four rebounds.

Asked what got him going, Daniels said he knows his teammates will find him on the perimeter if he is open. He also claimed that he wanted to be on the attack, to make things happen.

“That pretty much started defensively,” Daniels said.

Records

Michigan 19-15
Villanova 29-7

First half

Villanova's Collin Gillespie. No. 2 seed Villanova beat No. 11 seed Michigan 63-55 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Senior Collin Gillespie led Villanova with four 3-pointers. He was 4 of 14 from the field and scored 12 points. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The first 20 minutes were not pretty. The Michigan Wolverines shot 44.4 percent.
The Villanova Wildcats? They were good on 37.9 percent.

Michigan blocked four shots. Villanova made four steals. It was just one of those halves.

Villanova had an edge, though. Faced with a zone defense, the Wildcats fired up 16 three-point attempts and made five of them, taking a 31-28 lead over Michigan.

Wildcats point guard Collin Gillespie knocked down three of them and his backcourt mate, Justin Moore, sank two.

Samuels finished the half with 11 for Villanova, followed by Moore with 10 and Gillespie nine.

For Michigan, Hunter Dickinson produced eight points, four rebounds and a couple of blocks.

He led the Wolverines offensively with four of seven shooting. DeVante’ Jones led a late surge for Michigan. He had seven at the half.

Michigan jumped out to an early lead but Villanova for the most part controlled the action. The Wildcats’ biggest lead was seven at 18-11 with 10 minutes left.

Villanova's Justin Moore. No. 2 seed Villanova beat No. 11 seed Michigan 63-55 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Villanova guard Justin Moore had 15 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds against the Michigan Wolverines. – Photo by Joe Alexander

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