The 6th ranked Villanova Wildcats began their game against the DePaul Blue Demons at the Pavilion on Saturday afternoon a bit cold, missing 5 of its first 6 field goal attempts. From there, the Wildcats slowly got a little warmer. At the 11:34 mark, Villanova had made 4 of its 14 shots from the field. With 7:54 remaining, the Wildcats had hit 6 of 19 from the field and were tied with the Blue Demons 16-16. At that point there had been 4 lead changes and the score had been tied 3 times. James Bell then converted two free throws to put Villanova on top 18-16, and the lead kept building. The Wildcats, behind a very determined and aggressive effort led by Daniel Ochefu and Ryan Arcidiacono, took off and went into the locker room with a 33-24 half-time lead. Villanova held its nine point edge over DePaul despite the fact that JayVaughn Pinkston and Darrun Hilliard were scoreless in the first-half. Ochefu and Arcidiacono both had 9 points to lead the Wildcats in scoring in the first half. Most impressively, Villanova had 9 assists (on 12 field goals) and only 3 turnovers.
In the second half, DePaul scored the first two buckets to cut the Wildcats lead to five, 33-28. Villanova then elevated its game to another level and went on a 14-4 run to boost its lead to 47-32 with 13:23 remaining. From this point on, Villanova continued to put the Blue Demons in their rear view mirror. The lead was expanded to 75-52 with 5:31 left in the contest. The game also began to get chippy and both teams were assessed technical fouls. Villanova shot lights out in the second half hitting on 19-26 field goal attempts, a scorching 73.1 %. The Wildcats also zeroed in from distance hitting 6 of 11 three point shots (54.5 %). Villanova, as they had in the first half, shared the ball and ended up with 21 assists and only 5 turnovers in the game.
Leading the way for the victorious Wildcats (16-1 overall, 5-0 Big East), was senior James Bell with a team high 17 points and 8 rebounds.. Ochefu had 14 points, a career high, and Arcidiacono also chipped in 14 points. Josh Hart, once again gave Villanova a big lift coming off the bench. Hart ended up with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and an assist. Hilliard added 11 points, all in the second half. Ochefu topped the Wildcats in assists with 4 and blocks with 3.
For the visiting Blue Demons (10 -9 overall, 2-4 Big East), 5 players scored in double figures. Brandon Young had a team high 13, Billy Garrett, Jr. added 11, Cleveland Melvin, Tommy Hamilton and Charles McKinney each had 10 points.
Up next for the Wildcats is a game against the 20th ranked Creighton Blue Jays at 7pm on Monday, January 20th at the Wells Fargo Center. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1. It will be the first meeting between the two teams in 61 years. It will also be the first time two ranked opponents have faced each other in the revamped Big East. DePaul will return home to take on the Xavier Wildcats on January 20th in a 3pm game, also to be televised on the Fox Sports Network.
Before the victory over DePaul, Villanova honored JayVaughn Pinkston for scoring his 1,000th point as a member of the Wildcats (which happened in the St. John’s game last Saturday).
[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]
You can view the full Villanova post-game press conference as well as additional game photos in the gallery below (click thumbnails to enlarge):