NEW YORK (AP) - Mikal Bridges had his coming out performance as one of top players in the nation, scoring a career-high 28 points to lead No. 4 Villanova to an 88-72 victory over No. 12 Gonzaga in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.
Bridges, a 6-foot-7 junior guard, had shown Villanova (9-0) what he could do this season with three games of 20-plus points that already signaled he may be the best player on the Big East champs.
Against an NCAA title game finalist and in prime time on basketball's biggest stage, Bridges flashed the type of all-around talent that should make him an NBA first-round draft pick.
His defining moment came in the second half: Bridges slashed the lane and unleashed a monster right-hand dunk over 6-11 center Jacob Larsen. Gonzaga's Josh Perkins tried the same move on the next set only to have Bridges swat the ball out of bounds with a block that had the Nova fans that filled MSG roaring on each big screen replay.
Bridges hit five 3s in the first meeting between two programs that have ranked among the best for the last 15 years. Villanova won the 2016 national championship and the Zags lost the 2017 title game to North Carolina.
Zach Norvell Jr. led Gonzaga (7-2) with 22 points and Perkins had 16.
The Wildcats played every bit like a national championship favorite in a first half where they picked apart the Zags. Bridges had 12 points, Phil Booth had 11 of his 20 points and the Wildcats hit six 3s to build a 43-30 lead.