Feb. 8, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The Villanova Wildcats are back at the Pavilion on Saturday afternoon as they host the University of South Florida in a contest that is scheduled to get underway at 3:05 p.m. (ESNPU/1210 WPHT). The `Cats hope to build on the momentum of Tuesday night's 94-71 victory at DePaul, which snapped a two-game losing skid that came on the heels of victories over Top 5 teams Louisville and Syracuse.
"I think this team has great perspective and understands it is on a great journey," noted Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "They have a lot of work to do to get better. It's always good for them to get positive results. We had two tough losses and they came back and had a great effort at DePaul.
"We've just got to keep grinding, keep getting better."
The Wildcats bring a 14-9 overall record into Saturday's action, including 5-5 in the BIG EAST. The win at DePaul represented the largest margin of victory by the Wildcats in conference play this season. VU connected on a season-best .596 of its field goal attempts two days after connecting on a season-low .275 in a 55-52 Pavilion loss to Providence.
"One thing this group has shown is that it learns from its mistakes," stated Wright. "We didn't handle Providence's full-court pressure well. We went back, looked at it, saw where we had to improve, and came back at do a better job. I think that's what's great about this group - it learns from its mistakes."
Villanova defeated USF (10-12 overall, 1-9 BIG EAST) in Tampa on Jan. 9, 61-53. The Wildcats that night relied on the inside trio of senior Mouphtaou Yarou, sophomore JayVaughn Pinkston and freshman Daniel Ochefu, which combined for 43 points and 24 rebounds. That victory snapped a four-game losing skid in the series to the Bulls, who posted a 74-57 win over the `Cats in a January 2012 visit here.
"Even though we lost games against Notre Dame and Providence I didn't think we had taken a step back," explained Wright. "I thought we were getting better in certain areas. There were other areas, such as full-court pressure against Providence, we didn't handle well. Against Notre Dame we didn't adjust to (Cameron) Biedscheid coming off the bench. They're all things we have to do."
This matchup comes in a stretch where the Wildcats will play six games in 16 days. The period began last Sunday against Providence, continued at DePaul and resumes Saturday against the Bulls. On Tuesday night, VU will be in Cincinnati to meet the Bearcats (8:00 p.m./PHL 17) and follows with a Feb. 16 contest at Connecticut and Feb. 18 date with Rutgers.
"We're not a team that has a lot of seniors with great experience where you know you have to keep them fresh until post-season time comes," stated Wright. "We're a young team that can keep getting better every day. That's what we have to do."