Jan. 22, 2013
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Eight years to the day since it toppled another top five team at the Wells Fargo Center, the Villanova Wildcats made sure history repeated itself on Tuesday night by downing the No. 5 Louisville Cardinals 73-64 at the Wells Fargo Center. VU improves to 12-7 overall, 3-3 in the BIG EAST while the Cards fall to 16-3 overall, 4-2 BIG EAST.
Villanova defeated No. 2 Kansas 82-63 on Jan. 22, 2005.
"I'm so glad for these guys that we broke through tonight," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "Through all the mistakes they have never wavered, never stopped trying to do what we ask them to. When they feel success, I think that gives them confidence in themselves."
The Wildcats entered this game on a three-game slide after falling at Providence 69-66 on Saturday.
"We showed them film of Providence and we showed them that they were trying to do the right things but they just haven't played together long enough," stated Wright. "These guys have continued to do the right thing. That's all we talked about these last few days - just keep trying to do the right things. If you do that things will fall into place."
Freshman Ryan Arcidiacono led the Wildcats with 15 points, five rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals. Wayne Blackshear led Louisville with 17 points. The Cardinals were also damaged by connecting on just 12-of-24 free throw attempts on this night. In contrast, VU drained 22-of-29 from the stripe (.759).
Louisville's Peyton Siva opened the scoring with a pair of free throws before Darrun Hilliard drained a triple to give the Wildcats a 3-2 lead two minutes into the contest. Louisville came right back on a Siva triple but the `Cats soon responded with an 8-0 run to grab a 14-7 lead with just under 12 minutes to go in the period.
The Wildcats used balanced scoring to extend the lead to 23-13 after a 3-pointer from Tony Chennault with 8:22 on the first half clock. But the Cardinals responded with a run of their own keyed by a Blackshear corner triple that was quickly followed by a Blackshear dunk at 6:45 that forced a Wildcat time out and cut the gap to 23-21. A pair of Russ Smith free throws knotted the contest at 23.
A JayVaughn Pinkston driving shot allowed the Cats to end what had become a 12-0 run and with a free throw to finish the play gave VU back the edge at 26-25 with 3:43 to play in the first.
The Wildcats took a 30-28 edge into halftime. Seven of the eight Villanova players who saw first half action, led by six points each from Hilliard and Pinkston. The Cardinals were paced by Blackshear's eight points in the first 20 minutes.
Villanova scored six of the first seven points in the second half and built their advantage to 39-34 five minutes into the period. But Louisville put together a mid-half surge much like the one it constructed in the first half. Blackshear and the full-court defense were at the center of it again. The Cardinals used a 9-0 burst to grab a 43-39 advantage with 12:34 left in the second half.
"There was a point there in the second half where they made a run and had a six point lead," stated Arcidiacono. "But we hung together and kept getting stops."
But VU slowly came out of its scoring drought and, aided by some missed Cardinal opportunities at the free throw line, regained the lead at 53-52 with more than five minutes to play in the second half.
Even as Louisville kept applying pressure, Villanova's defense stiffened. A three-pointer in the corner from Achraf Yacoubou with 3:57 left gave VU a 56-53 and that was followed by a 3-ball from the top of the key by James Bell to extend the lead to six. In fact, over the final 3:57 Villanova outscored Louisville 20-11.
"The great thing about playing in this league is if you have a tough night, you get another chance to do something great your next time out," noted Wright. "You are always playing outstanding teams."
That theme continues Saturday when No. 3 Syracuse visits the Center at 11:00 a.m. (ESPNU/610 WIP Radio).
Notes: Villanova's last victory over a Top 10 team came on Jan. 22, 2011, an 83-72 victory over No. 3 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome ... Its last win over a ranked team came on Feb. 5, 2011, when it upended West Virginia 66-50 ... This was Villanova's 22 win as unranked team over a top five squad.