Feb. 2, 2014
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The Villanova Wildcats get back to BIG EAST action on Monday night when they return to the Pavilion for the first time since Jan. 18 to host Xavier at 7:00 p.m. (Fox Sports 1 and 1210 WPHT Radio/Sirius XM 85).
On Saturday, Villanova stepped outside its conference to complete the Philadelphia Big Five portion of its slate with a 90-74 win over Temple at the Liacouras Center. That victory gave VU the outright City Series title and improved its overall record to 19-2.
"When you play these games in the middle of the Big East season, it doesn't really bother you because it's just like a Big East game," noted Villanova head coach Jay Wright, whose `Cats bring a 7-1 conference mark into Monday's action.
Now Villanova turns its focus to Xavier. The Musketeers bring a 15-6 overall record with them to the Pavilion and are 5-3 in the BIG EAST. Xavier dropped a 68-60 verdict to Seton Hall on Saturday afternoon on its home court in Cincinnati.
For the Wildcats, sophomore forward Daniel Ochefu continues to emerge. The 6-11 native of Baltimore contributed 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots to the win at Temple. He connected on 5-of-6 field goal attempts on the day and is now 23-of-27 from the field in his last six games (.852).
"He works very hard," noted Wright, "and as a coach you are thrilled when someone asks about him so you can talk about him. Daniel has earned it. He does all the little things defensively for us. He passes the ball really well, and blocks shots but he has really worked hard on his offense. He's become very efficient.
"Now that he is scoring, it makes his passing even more of a threat. When (Temple) went zone - which was a smart move because we were driving the ball - Daniel was the one who kicked it out. He didn't get the assist because we made another pass but he's the one who got the ball in the zone and found the guy open on the perimeter."
As for Ochefu, he credits his teammate and coaches for the strides he has made of late.
"I just respond to my coaches and teammates," stated Ochefu. "They are talking to me and encouraging me in games and practices. I'm just going out there and playing for them.
"Opportunities have come my way and Coach tells me in practice, when opportunities come my way, to take them. If I score, I score. If I see an open pass, I pass it."
The Wildcats will debut an alternate home gray jersey on Monday night.
This is the first of two Pavilion dates for Villanova this week. The Wildcats will be back under the lights on Friday evening at 7 p.m. to host Seton Hall (Fox Sports 1).
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