Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins enjoy one last homecoming in win over Georgetown

Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins enjoy one last homecoming in win over Georgetown

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While Georgetown honored three seniors suiting up for the last time at the Verizon Center Saturday afternoon, it felt appropriate that No. 2 Villanova would be the last opponent on the Hoyas' schedule.

Villanova seniors Josh Hart (Sidwell Friends) and Kris Jenkins (Gonzaga) both played their high school basketball inside the District, yet somehow both escaped the nation's capital and found their way a few hours up I-95 for the next steps in their basketball journey.

Since their arrival at Villanova, there has been a complete reversal of fortunes in the heated rivalry with the Hoyas and Saturday was no different. The D.C. duo combined for 40 points, as Hart led the Wildcats with 21 and Jenkins had 19 in the 81-55 Villanova victory (see Instant Replay). It was Villanova's fifth straight win over the Hoyas, matching a program record going back to 1950.

When asked about if it was nice to come back home for their final college regular season game, Jenkins responded with a large grin, immediately turning to Hart who was to his right with head coach Jay Wright in the middle before answering, "Just our next game, man."

Hart was able to add more description to the homecoming.

"It's always great being able to come back home," he said. "Obviously I know Kris and myself had a lot of people come to the game. All that is something that we can think about after the game. But before that we've got to be dialed into Georgetown and during the game, we can’t think about trying to go get a bucket because we got people here coming to see us."

Since arriving at Villanova, Hart and Jenkins have a record of 8-1 against the Hoyas with a possible tenth game awaiting next week if Georgetown beats St. John's in the first round of the Big East Tournament. Before their arrival, Georgetown had won eight of its last 10 meetings with Villanova.

Georgetown head coach John Thompson III, who has been under heavy scrutiny this week for his team's second consecutive losing season, knows just how important Hart has been to Villanova.

"His mindset," Thompson III said when asked about what sets Hart apart. "He finds a way to impose his will on most contests that they have. Sometimes it's for long stretches, sometimes it's for the entire game. Every game he’s in you know he’s in."

When Georgetown looked to make it a game in the second half, it was Hart who blew things open with consecutive three-pointers in pushing a nine-point lead up to 60-45 with 7:09 remaining. Villanova never saw its lead shrink below 14 the rest of the way.

"What stands out is Josh hits those two three-pointers and we didn't bounce back," Thompson III said. "I don’t know if there's anyone in the country that plays as hard as him. For four years now, he's given his teammates confidence and energy. And you can see the improvements in his game offensively to let you know he's working on the practice court too when it's not a contest."

Jenkins failed to hit at least one three-pointer for the first time in 10 games and just the third time this season. But he still found a way to be a thorn in the Hoyas' side by hitting 11 of his 13 free throws.

"I just feel like we're getting better, and as long as we continue to get better and play Villanova basketball, we'll accept the results of any game," Jenkins said.

The thought of Villanova continuing to get better is a scary proposition for the rest of the college basketball world for an accomplished group that has won everything possible, yet still remains hungry heading into their final stretch.

So as Hart and Jenkins look to add another championship to an already impressive resume at Madison Square Garden next week, there was probably no better place for that push to begin than back home at the Verizon Center.

Instant Replay: No. 2 Villanova 81, Georgetown 55

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Instant Replay: No. 2 Villanova 81, Georgetown 55

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WASHINGTON -- No. 2 Villanova continued its recent dominance over Georgetown in a decisive 81-55 victory Saturday afternoon. 

It was another balanced effort by the Wildcats (28-3, 15-3 Big East) with four players in double-figures led by senior Josh Hart's 21 points. Villanova controlled the game and led for the final 30 minutes in handing its longtime rivals a program-worst 13th conference defeat.

Georgetown (14-17, 5-13) was led by graduate transfer Rodney Pryor's 21 points. The Hoyas have lost five straight heading into the conference tournament at Madison Square Garden next week.

Kris Jenkins had 19 points -- highlighted by going 11 for 13 from the line -- while Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges had 17 and 12, respectively.

The Wildcats remain in line for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament by beating Georgetown for the ninth time in their last 10 meetings dating back to 2013. Villanova recorded its largest away win at Georgetown since conference play began and the most since a 28-point victory in the 1949-50 season. 

The Hoyas never got closer than five points in the second half in finishing their second straight season with a losing record for the first since 1973.

The run
Trailing 15-11 in the first half, the Wildcats went on a 27-8 run over the next 10 minutes to take their biggest lead of the half at 38-23. The run started with a Hart three-pointer and ended with a Brunson trey. During that span, five Villanova players scored while Georgetown made just two field goals total. Villanova survived a poor shooting start (5 for 15) by forcing six Georgetown turnovers.

Stat of the day
Villanova committed just seven turnovers while forcing 20 Georgetown turnovers. Six Hoyas had at least two turnovers, with Jagan Mosely leading the way with four.

By the numbers
With the victory, Villanova improved to 63-9 in Big East regular-season play over the past four years.  

Georgetown’s Rodney Pryor joined former Sixers great Allen Iverson as the only players in school history to hit at least 80 threes in a single season. Pryor hit three threes Saturday, giving him 81 for the season. Iverson made 87 as a sophomore in 1996.

Up next
Villanova is off until the Big East quarterfinals next Thursday. Despite winning the previous three Big East regular-season crowns, the Wildcats have won the tournament title just once in that span -- 2015. Georgetown plays Wednesday night in the first round against St. John's as the ninth seed.

Déjà vu
If Georgetown wins its first round matchup against St. John's on Wednesday, the Hoyas and Wildcats will meet for the second consecutive year in the noon quarterfinal Thursday. The last time the Hoyas and Wildcats met in back-to-back Big East Tournaments was in 2007 and 2008.