Feb. 17, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The Villanova Wildcats (16-10 overall, 7-6 BIG EAST) were back on the practice court Sunday morning as they look ahead to Monday night's encounter with Rutgers (13-11 overall, 4-9 BIG EAST) at the Pavilion (9:00 p.m./ESPNU and Sportsradio 610 WIP).
The Wildcats posted an impressive 70-61 win over Connecticut at the XL Center in Hartford on Saturday afternoon.
A huge key to the victory was the interior work of senior forward Mouphtaou Yarou, who collected 16 caroms to go with 11 points. The rebounds matched a career high set twice previously, most recently last month in the upset victory over Syracuse at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia.
"Mouph may have had better numbers but I think that's the best game he's played in his career here," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "To go on the road against this team, which has a lot of quickness, and be such a force on both ends of the court is big for him.
"He is a guy who had to go out and defend ball screens a lot. You think about being that big and being out by half-court guarding (Shabazz) Napier on ball screens and then spring back to rebound, that's a heck of an effort. At the end, we were going inside to Mouph on our sideline out of bounds plays and he made a big kick-out pass to James Bell for a three.
"Mouph was outstanding."
Villanova defeated Rutgers twice in six days in 2012-13 and Yarou posted double-doubles in both outings (23 total points and 23 total rebounds). The first of those wins came at the Rutgers Athletic Center by the score of 77-71 and the latter took place in the opening round of the BIG EAST Tournament at Madison Square Garden (a 70-49 `Cat triumph).
In its most recent action Rutgers dropped a 75-69 decision at DePaul Saturday as leading scorer Eli Carter (14.9 ppg) suffered what was later revealed to be a fractured fibula in his right leg. In his absence fellow guard Myles Mack stepped forward with 28 points on Saturday.
Earlier in the week Rutgers had downed in-state rival Seton Hall 57-55.
The Scarlet Knights rank third in the BIG EAST in 3-point field goal accuracy at .360.
This is the first of two home games this week for Villanova, which returns to the Pavilion on Saturday night to host Marquette (6:00 p.m/ESPN2). The Wildcats will honor Yarou and Maurice Sutton as part of "Senior Night" ceremonies prior to the game.