NEW YORK (AP) Mikal Bridges hit Gonzaga with a dunk that shook the garden and followed with a block that undermined the spirit of the Zags.
Against a NCAA title finalist and in the best time on the biggest basketball stage, Bridges had his performance as one of the best players in the nation.
Just check the repetition of that sequence for confirmation.
"I just saw a lane and I tried to go up and be strong," said Bridges.
Bridges hit five 3-pointers and scored 28 points, the highest of his career, to lead No. 4 Villanova to an 88-72 victory over No. 12 Gonzaga in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in Tuesday night.
The Wildcats (9-0) exercised their muscle on the family turf and proved once again that they are again contenders in the national championship in their first real test of the season.
Bridges, a 6-foot-7 junior guard, rides a show against the NBA scouts' scores and launches a game worthy of choosing a lottery. His decisive moment came in the second half: Bridges cut the lane and threw a matted right-handed monster over 6-11 center Jacob Larsen. Josh Perkins de Gonzaga tried the same move in the next set just for Bridges to hit the ball out of bounds with a block that had the Nova fans filling the roar of MSG on each replay.
"Since my freshman year, I had a lot of the ball and the coaches, the veterans, used to attack me because of that," said Bridges.
Bridges made 8 of 14 shots in the first meeting between two programs that have ranked among the best in the last 15 years. Villanova won the 2016 national championship and the Zags lost the game for the 2017 title in North Carolina.
Bridges was such a dominant presence, he even surprised a Zag in a check-in when he heard steps in a counterattack.
"I probably could have done more of this last year," coach Jay Wright said. "He is the leader, he is the captain, so he is playing with much more freedom, aggression, as he says."
Zach Norvell Jr. led Gonzaga (7-2) with 22 points and Perkins had 16.
"We got it pretty good," said Gonzaga coach Mark Few.  The bridges cut the Bulldogs every time they did a small race. The Zags advanced to seven at the beginning of the second half and Bridges hit a 3. He invented a hard cube inside and scored a foul on a possession and followed with a 3 in the next to turn it into a game of 10 games.  The bridges stuck and blocked in front of the scouts destroyed everything that the Gonzaga mojo had left and the Wildcats won by the best amount of the NCAA since 2014.
"We do not care who is in the crowd. the one against the other, "said Bridges
. The Wildcats played as a national championship favorite in the first half, where they separated the Zags. Bridges had 12 points, Phil Booth had 11 of his 20 points and the Wildcats connected six three-pointers to build a 43-30 lead.
Villanova is more than a few scorers ready for the NBA who take the offense. Eric Paschall missed both of his shots in the middle, but it was his kicking passes on consecutive possessions that led to 3s of Booth and Bridges. Donte DiVincenzo converted three consecutive triples that put the Nova fans on their feet.
Booth, who took a red medical shirt last season, proved that his left knee twice repaired was fine in a high-flying dunk and even the players were strong in the garden: Villanova's deep reserves flew out of the bank and shouted "Charge! Charge! Charge!" At the end of halftime and surely the foul was called Rui Hachimura de Gonzaga.
The Wildcats made the short trip of 105 miles compared to almost 2,600 miles for the Zags and had the strong support of the fans at MSG. The Wildcats, a regular at the Garden in the Big East Tournament, could lift that trophy in front of the faithful again in March in New York.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs lost their second game after losing only one in the regular season on the way to the title game. The Bulldogs were chosen this year to finish second in the WCC, behind their archrival Saint Mary.
Villanova: The Wildcats followed a school record of 19-3 in their last game against Saint Joseph's with 10 against Gonzaga. What will it take to lose? "We relaxed," said Bridges.
The Wildcats shot 52 percent from the field and became the first team in 65 games to shoot better than 50 percent against the Zags. The starters of Gonzaga Johnathan Williams and Silas Melson committed a foul.
Gonzaga: The Zags play against Pac 12 Washington on Sunday.
Villanova: The Wildcats seek to extend their dominance in Philadelphia's series of cities on Sunday against La Salle.
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