Nov. 22, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Villanova used high-octane offense to stave off a spirited test from Delaware on its way to an 84-80 victory tonight at the Pavilion. The Wildcats are now 4-0 in 2013-14 while Delaware of the CAA drops to 2-3 overall.
Junior forward JayVaughn Pinkston paced the Wildcats with 26 points, two shy of his career high set in 2012 against Providence. Junior Darrun Hilliard added 15 points, nine rebounds, six assists and a pair of steals in 35 minutes.
Davon Usher led the Blue Hens with 27 points.
"You've got to give Delaware a lot of credit - they played great," stated Wildcats head coach Jay Wright. "(Jarvis) Threatt just controlled the game. Even in the first half he shot 1-for-10 but I thought he was key for them. We couldn't do anything with him in the half-court press and he got everybody shots. He was a handful.
"We did not play well. I was proud that we gutted it out. J.P. and Darrun made some big time plays for us."
Delaware jumped out to a 12-6 lead on the strength of smooth shooting. The Blue Hens dropped in six of their first 10 field goal attempts to grab the early advantage.
Villanova responded with a 15-8 run keyed by the work of senior James Bell to regain the lead at 21-20.
The defensive pressure that was so beneficial to the Wildcats in Sunday's 78-44 win over Towson helped spark a 9-0 surge to build a 30-22 advantage midway through the first period. But seven straight points from Usher - to give him 16 in 12 minutes - and a traditional 3-point play from Carl Baptiste gave Delaware a 10-0 run of its own and the Blue Hens were back on top with 7:17 left in the period.
The Delaware edge grew to 38-32 before the Wildcats closed the final three minutes on an 11-3 run to take a 43-40 lead into the break at halftime.
Baptiste and Usher were the story for Delaware over the first 20 minutes. Each connected on 6-of-8 field goal attempts in the period and combined for 29 of the 40 points the Blue Hens scored in the period. UD was 4-of-8 from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Blue Hens kept the scoring flowing early in the second half. An Usher triple that was accompanied by a foul by Villanova's Tony Chennault gave Delaware back the lead at 52-49 with 4:08 gone in the half. Another Threatt jumper pushed the advantage to 54-50 with 13:37 left in the period.
A 15-5 run gave the Wildcats their biggest margin of the second half at 74-65 after a Hilliard layup with 5:45 remaining. Delaware bounced right back, though, and matters were deadlocked at 76 with 3:02 to go.
Villanova rode Pinkston's offense in the homestretch. He gave the Wildcats the lead back at 78-76 on a layup and was fouled in the act of shooting. The Brooklyn native drained the subsequent free throw. VU got a stop on the next possession and Arcidiacono was fouled with 1:17 to play. The sophomore made both free throws and the Wildcats had an 81-76 edge they would not relinquish.
The final count was 84-80.
"Delaware played the best anyone has played against us this season," stated Wright. "It's so early that you are trying to find out how good you are. I think they're a really good team. But we have some veterans. These guys have been in tough games. Both JayVaughn and Darrun stepped up on a night when we didn't shoot threes well."
Indeed, the Cats were just 5-of-25 from deep on the evening. They also surrendered 21 more points than they had in any game thus far. Yet in the end they found their way to a win.
"Now, after it's over, you can say it was good for us to be in a close game like this," stated Wright. "But it was a tough one - Delaware was terrific."
Next up for the Wildcats is a trip to Paradise Island in the Bahamas where the final rounds of the Battle 4 Atlantis will be staged. Villanova faces USC at 1:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day (AXS TV) and then faces either Kansas or Wake Forest in the next round on Friday. Other participants at the eight team event are Iowa, Tennessee, Xavier, and UTEP.
Note: Villanova sophomore guard Dylan Ennis, who suffered a fracture of the third metacarpal bone in his right hand on Oct. 24, had the cast removed from his right (shooting) hand on Friday. He was in uniform for tonight's game but did not see action. The transfer from Rice is cleared to resume all basketball activities and is expected to practice this week.
In his post-game remarks, Wright said he unsure if Ennis will be available to play next week against USC.
"It's his hand and he's hasn't played in a month," Wright says. "We'll just have to see how he is in practice."