BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Daniel Ochefu returned to the Villanova starting lineup after being hampered by an ankle injury, scoring 17 points and pulling in 10 rebounds in the Wildcats' 86-56 win over UNC Asheville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Barclays Center on Friday.
Villanova (30-5), the second seed, moves into Sunday's second round where it faces Iowa.
Ryan Arcidiacono scored 14 points and Kris Jenkins added 12 for Villanova.
Dylan Smith paced Asheville (22-12) with 14 points. The 15th-seeded Bulldogs never led.
A sprained right ankle kept Ochefu out of the starting lineup for Villanova's last two games in the Big East tournament and he didn't play more than 19 minutes in any of the Wildcats' three games.
Villanova coach Jay Wright gave Ochefu three days off and the rest paid off. Ochefu was energized from the start despite Asheville's several defensive looks. The Wildcats dominated the Bulldogs, who didn't have a starter bigger than 6-foot-5, outscoring them 36-26 in the paint.
"I was just trying to be aggressive, doing what my teammates expected me to do," Ochefu said. "Their (Bulldogs) defensive plan was kind of tripping me up in the first half mentally, and I was making some of the wrong decisions. So coach (Jay Wright) got on me in the locker room, in the huddles, and I responded and made the adjustments that we needed to -- kicking the ball out to shooters like Ryan (Arcidiacono), Josh (Hart) and guys cutting, and scoring when I couldn't."
A 19-2 run elevated the Wildcats' lead to 71-41 with 7:57 to play. Jenkins scored five points in the sequence. The Wildcats made 3-of-5 3-pointers in the run.
The Wildcats ended the first half on a 9-2 run, all on 3-pointers, for a 40-26 lead. Arcidiacono hit two treys and Brunson contributed one.
Asheville recorded as many turnovers as it did field goals (10) in the first half. Villanova scored 21 points off the miscues.
"Villanova kind of pressured us a lot more than we're accustomed to," admitted Asheville guard Dwayne Sutton, who scored 11 points. "Teams in our league (Big South) don't press that much, and they (Villanova) have long athletes in every position which kind of threw us off.
"The outcome wasn't what we wanted. We could have played a lot better. Credit to Villanova for pressuring us and making us a little bit uncomfortable."
A 6-0 run from Villanova over 3:29 expanded the Wildcats lead to 21-12 with 7:56 left in the half. The Bulldogs went 5:29 without a basket, turning the ball over three times, after getting to within 15-12.
NOTES: Only seven No. 15 seeds have won first-round games since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. ... UNC Asheville entered the NCAA Tournament with the best 3-point defense in the country, holding opponents to 28.4 percent. Villanova was 13-for-28 (46.4 percent) from beyond the arc. ... The Bulldogs have recorded at least 15 wins in nine straight seasons, the second longest streak in Big South Conference history. ... Villanova F Kris Jenkins was named to the Big East all-tournament team after scoring 59 points in three games last week at Madison Square Garden. ... Villanova held the No. 1 spot in the AP poll for three weeks this season.