AUSTIN, Texas – After opening the season in a Connecticut “bubble,” Villanova went all the way down to Texas to get a big win.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Justin Moore each scored 19 points and No. 12 Villanova held on late to beat No. 17 Texas 68-64 Sunday, handing the Longhorns their first loss after a strong start.
“Road attitude is something we talked about,” Robinson-Earl said. “We just tried to stay after it.”
It took some physical play against an experienced Texas lineup, some late free throws and some old-fashioned grit to close it out.
Collin Gillespie made four free throws over the final 15 seconds to secure the win for the Wildcats (4-1). Jermaine Samuels, who sat out practice this week because of a sprained pinky on his right hand, collected a game-high 12 rebounds.
“I wasn’t even thinking about it,” Samuels said. “You could feel it here and there on deadballs, but I was just focused on what the next play was.”
Courtney Ramey and Matt Coleman III each scored 17 points to pace the Longhorns (4-1). Texas had won the Maui Invitational in the program’s best start in six years under coach Shaka Smart, who just last season was under intense pressure and speculation he could lose his job.
Ramey fouled out to send Gillespie to the line and he calmly stroked both shots to put the Wildcats up by four. After Coleman made a twisting layup, Gillespie was again back at the line and swished two more. Gillespie finished with 12 points.