The Villanova Wildcats opened the Big East portion of their schedule, and closed out 2014, with a win over the Butler Bulldogs 67-55 at the Pavilion on Saturday afternoon, December 31. The win enabled the Wildcats to equal the best start in program history with their 13th straight victory. The last time Villanova won 13 in a row to start the season was the 1937-38 season.
The Villanova Wildcats never trailed in the game. Villanova took an 8-2 lead with 16:29 to go in the first half. Butler briefly knotted the score at 8-8, before Villanova took the lead back permanently with a 15-6 run to make it a 23-14 game with 8:19 left in the opening half. Butler, on the strength of aggressive offensive rebounding, pulled within two points late in the first half. A Daniel Ochefu bucket made it 36-32 at the intermission.
Darrun Hilliard, who was scoreless in the first half, scored 7 straight points to open the second half and the 6th ranked Wildcats took control of the game. Once again, Villanova got balanced scoring, with 4 players scoring in double figures, and a solid defensive effort that limited the Bulldogs to 35.5% field goal shooting for the game. In the second half, Villanova’s stingy defense held the Bulldogs to 23 points on 8-29 shooting (27.6%).
Ryan Arcidiacono led the way for Villanova with 15 points and a strong floor game – 5 assists to 1 turnover. JayVaughn Pinkston added 13 points, Kris Jenkins, off the bench, chipped in a dozen points, and Ochefu scored 10 to go with a team high 9 rebounds. Overall, Villanova hit on 23 of 48 shots from the field (47.9%). Villanova made 5 of 20 three-point shots (25%), and 16 of 26 free throw tries (61.5%). The Wildcats were out-rebounded 40-29.
For Butler, Alex Barlow and Andrew Chrabascz each scored 12 points. Kellum Dunham, the Bulldogs leading scorer coming into the game, was held to 10 points. Roosevelt Jones was Butler’s leading rebounder with 9 boards.
Earlier in the day, Seton Hall beat St. John’s to start the Big East Tip-Off marathon. Villanova 13-0 overall, 1-0 Big East, next plays at Seton Hall on Saturday January 3, 2015 in a noon time game. Butler 10-4 overall, 0-1 Big East, will next play at St. John’s at 4pm on January 3.
[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]
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