Dec. 27, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Villanova closes the non-conference portion of its regular season schedule on Friday evening, when it hosts NJIT (6-5 overall, 0-0 Great West) at 7:05 p.m. at the Pavilion. The game can be viewed via espn3.com or heard in the Philadelphia area on 1210 WPHT (Ryan Fannon and Whitey Rigsby have the call) or through the Nova Nation All-Access Pass at villanova.com.
The Wildcats (8-4 overall, 0-0 BIG EAST) enter Friday night's action riding a four-game winning streak. In their most recent action, they defeated Monmouth 83-56 on Saturday night, draining 15 3-point field goals in the process. After connecting on .330 of its field goal attempts through its first 10 games, VU is 25-of-46 (.543) in its last two outings.
"I think we're starting to find that when we go inside-out, our forwards have been able to find our guards for some really good looks," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright of the team's improved accuracy from deep. "JayVaughn (Pinkston) did an especially good job of that against Monmouth with eight assists.
"That's big for us. We need that."
The Highlanders, Villanova's Friday night opponent have faced three BIG EAST foes already this season and lost by a total of 18 points to Providence, Seton Hall and St. John's (an average of 6.0 ppg). Prior to this season, NJIT's average margin of defeat to BIG EAST schools was 25.7 per contest. NJIT's 6-5 mark is its best record at this stage of the season since it began Division I play in 2006-07.
The Wildcats have been bolstered by the production of their bench in recent weeks. Junior Tony Chennault scored a season-high 11 points in the win at Monmouth and sophomore guard Achraf Yacoubou has averaged 8.5 ppg in his last four outings.
"I think we've gotten better and we have the potential to get a lot better," stated Wright. "We had 19 turnovers (against Monmouth) and we have been turning the ball over a lot. But our defense is getting better, our 3-point defense is a lot better and we're starting to understand where we have to go with the ball on offense. Every game we see a little piece of it fall into place.
"There's still a lot of room for improvement."
Villanova will also celebrate its Men's Basketball Alumni Night as part of the festivities on Friday. Former Wildcats of all eras are expected to be returned and will be introduced to the audience during a half-time ceremony.
BIG EAST play opens next Wednesday night, when the `Cats host St. John's at the Pavilion at 8:00 p.m. (ESPNU/610 WIP).