Villanova Wildcats Channel Inner Matador, Slay South Florida Bulls
Villanova rode a sturdy defense and a strong shooting offense to throttle the University of South Florida 68-40 on Saturday afternoon (February 9th) in a Big East conference game at the Pavilion.
After the Bulls scored the first basket of the game, the Wildcats ran off twelve consecutive points to take a 12-2 lead, that they did not relinquish for the rest of the game. South Florida cut into Villanova’s lead on a trey by Jawanza Poland to make it 16-11, before the Wildcats went on a 23-5 run to close out the first twenty minutes.
At the half, Villanova was ahead 39-16. The Wildcats limited the Bulls to 22.7% shooting from the field in the opening half, allowing just 5 field goals in 22 attempts (including only 1 three pointer in 8 tries). Moreover, the Wildcats dominated the boards by a significant 21-8 margin. Villanova, on the other hand, shot a sizzling 13 for 20 (65.0%) . Mouphtaou Yarou and Darrun Hilliard both scored nine first- half points. Yarou also snatched 6 rebounds.
In the second half, the Wildcats did not let up, particularly on the defensive end, holding the Bulls to 6 baskets on 25 attempts (24.0%). Villanova also continued to attack on offense and built its lead to as much as 34 points. Their lead was high enough in the final minutes that coach Jay Wright inserted all three of Villanova’s walk-ons (as well as rarely used Mislav Brzoja) to a roar of cheers from the crowd.
Pacing the Wildcats was Hilliard with 17 points on 6 for 8 shooting, including 2 three pointers. JayVaughn Pinkston came off the bench to add 10 points. Yarou narrowly missed a double-double, finishing with 9 points and 10 rebounds. Ryan Arcidiacono led Villanova with 4 assists, against zero turnovers. South Florida was led by JaVonte Hawkins who scored 13 points. The Bulls were missing Victor Rudd, their leading scorer, who was out with a groin injury.
What a difference a year makes. Last year, the Bulls beat the Wildcats three times (two regular season match ups and a third meeting in the Big East tournament). This year, Villanova won both match ups against South Florida. With the win, Villanova improved its record to 15-9, 6-5 in the Big East. South Florida’s record fell to 10-13, 1-10 in the Big East. Next up for Villanova is a game at Cincinnati at 8pm on Tuesday night, February 12th. The Bulls will return to action when they host the Providence Friars on February 13th.
You can view video of Villanova’s post game press conference with Jay Wright, Mouphtaou Yarou, and Darrun Hilliard as well as an expanded photo gallery from the game below (click photo thumbnails to enlarge):