The Wildcats (15-1, 4-0 Big East) enter the contest winners of their past four, after suffering their first loss of the season to #2 Syracuse on December 28. After struggling to get going early the last time out against St. John’s, Villanova surged in the second half to leave Madison Square Garden with a 74-67 win.
"I thought St. John's played really well. Their defense was outstanding," said Villanova coach Jay Wright after the hard-fought win.
The Wildcats received a well-rounded performance in the end, with five players finishing in double figures. JayVaughn Pinkston led the way with a double-double, scoring 15 points and collecting 10 rebounds. Ryan Arcidiacono pitched in 13 points, while fellow starters Daniel Ochefu and Darrun Hilliard each added 10.
Contributing 14 points off the bench was freshman guard Josh Hart, who was named Big East Rookie of the Week for his performance, his third time receiving the honor in four weeks.
DePaul also enters the contest coming off a close win over St. John’s. The Blue Demons, winners of their past two, topped the Red Storm 77-75 on Tuesday to pick up their 10th win of the season.
It was a back and forth game between the Blue Demons and Red Storm, as the two squads went to the break knotted at 38. Trailing 75-72 with just over three minutes remaining, Billy Garrett made a layup to pull DePaul within one, before a Cleveland Melvin jumper with 2:19 remaining gave the Blue Demons a 76-75 lead on their way to victory.
Garrett, a freshman from Chicago, would lead the way for the Blue Demons, scoring 21 points, while three other DePaul starters finished in double figures as well.
The Wildcats will be a major test for DePaul, as the Blue Demons look to hand Villanova their first conference loss of the season Saturday at 4 p.m.
By: Kyle Babcock
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