VILLANOVA, PA. 1/10/2015 – The #8 Villanova Wildcats started fast and never let up in their 81 – 64 Big East win over the DePaul Blue Demons at the Pavilion. DePaul came into the game unbeaten in conference play, but now join Villanova with a 3 – 1 Big East record. Villanova did not care about records or standings, they wanted to play well from the beginning and get the win. The good start had been elusive, but not in this game.
“It’s not about what the other team has done previously, it’s about how we start the game,” said Villanova junior guard Ryan Arcidiacono. “We struggled starting games and we worked on that at practice. We started like at practice and set the tone like we did at practice.”
Leading 6 – 5 early the Wildcats broke away behind an 11 – 0 run. Following a DePaul basket Villanova followed up with 8 straight points in just under 5 minutes to pull ahead 24 – 12 at the 5:40 mark. The half would conclude with the Cats scoring 21 of the last 33 points. Just before intermission sophomore guard Josh Hart made a ling inbound pass to junior center Daniel Ochefu who tipped the ball to junior guard Ryan Arcidiacono who made a short jumper to give Nova a 45 – 24 halftime lead. All of that happened in 2 seconds.
“That was a great first half for us,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “We really played well on both ends of the floor. It started with our defense, and we moved and shared the ball well. When you have a lead like that at halftime it’s tough for the other team to come back. That was the key to the game.”
In the second half the lead would stretch to 34 points.
The Wildcats were hitting on all cylinders shooting 53.6% for the game (30 of 56), and made a season-high tying 13 shots of the 29 attempts from three-point land.
“You can always get them off (three-point shots), but you want to get good ones,” said Wright. “We’re trying to concentrate on getting good ones.”
Senior guard Darrun Hilliard and Arcidiacono were especially deadly from beyond the arc making 4 apiece. Hilliard led all scorers with 21 points, and Arcidiacono chipped in with 14. Sophomore forward Kris Jenkins broke the double figures mark with 10 points. Nine Villanova players scored in the game.
Defensively they held the Blue Demons to 39.2% shooting and forced 15 turnovers. This would give Villanova a 17 – 10 edge in points off turnovers, and the easy run-outs gave the Cats a 30 – 10 advantage in points in the paint.
Guard Tommy Hamilton led DePaul with 12 points. Leading scorers Myke Henry and Billy Garrett were held to a season-low total of 3 and 7 points.
The next outing for Villanova (15 – 1) is a home game against Xavier on Wednesday which will be another tough conference test.
“Everybody in the conference is getting better, everyone is getting to know each other which makes things scrapper and more competitive,” Wright said. “You’ve gone against each other before and you’ve got some history. I see the intensity rising, I see the level of play rising, and it’s fun to be a part of.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian