Stokes wasn't the only reason they came back against a team picked to finish 15th in the conference but showing some signs of life under new coach Mike Rice, the former Saint Joseph's assistant. Still, Stokes' contributions sure didn't hurt.
On Thursday, against No. 25 Temple, when the Wildcats also rallied from a halftime deficit, Stokes was 5-for-16 from the arc. His teammates finished 0-for-8.
Sense a pattern developing?
"They're always telling me, 'If you get the ball, shoot it,' " said Stokes, who had a game-high 23 points, seven above his average. "They're going to get it to me.
"They do a great job getting me open shots. I've got to knock them down."
He did manage to miss one of his 10 free throws, which means he's 44-for-47. He had two treys in the first 2 minutes, 9 seconds of the second half, as the Wildcats scored the first 11 points, and he added another 83 seconds later. His last would come at the 8 1/2-minute mark after Rutgers (9-4, 0-1), which was coming off a 23-point loss to North Carolina in New York, had closed to three. That was part of a 9-0 spurt, and the best the Scarlet Knights could do after that was get it down to seven with just under 3 minutes showing.
"Welcome to the Big East," said coach Jay Wright, whose team will be at South Florida (6-9, 0-2) on Thursday night. "It's not pretty. But this is the way it's going to be in this league.
"We just weren't playing [our] basketball in the first half. I don't know what we were doing, to be honest. Basic concepts. And [Rutgers] was bringing it. It wasn't anything tricky or special."
What Rutgers was mostly doing was getting to the basket for easy scores. But in the second half, much of that changed.
"The first 4 or 5 minutes of the second half, there were too many Corey Stokeses," said Rice, who very nearly upset Villanova as a 15 seed in the first round of last year's NCAA Tournament when he was at Robert Morris. "I think that run doomed us. We were looking for something bad to happen. You have to get used to winning. That's something we have not figured out [yet]. That's more of a mental toughness, a belief."
The Wildcats took three less shots after intermission but made three more field goals. Nobody on the roster has ever lost in this building. Unbeaten Cincinnati will visit on Sunday.
"It's always special when you play against old AAU teammates, and guys you went to high school with," said Stokes, who's from North Jersey. "I never lose confidence in myself, and my teammates never lose confidence in me . . .
"As long as we get [defensive] stops, it's going to pay off [at the other end]. That's something we take pride in. We know this [Big East] season's going to be a grind."
Corey Fisher, who scored five points against Temple, had 19 on 6-for-12 shooting to go with six assists. Malik Wayns was only 2-for-9, but he had nine assists and a career-best eight rebounds.
Villanova beat Rutgers on the boards, 40-21.
The Knights, who lost sixth man Austin Carroll after just 2 minutes with a leg injury, had four starters reach double digits, led by Jonathan Mitchell (17 points).
"We know when [Stokes] only has two points [at the half], we're in trouble," Wright said. "We [finally] found him. He finds good shots. We knew it was going to be this kind of [physical] game."
It was not the kind of game they could afford to lose. Not with the beasts of the food chain dead ahead.
When the Wildcats make enough shots, they can be a factor. It may largely depend on one experienced right arm.