Yarou helps Villanova to seventh straight win

Posted: January 10, 2013

TAMPA, Fla. - In his effort to break a four-game losing streak to South Florida, Villanova coach Jay Wright tried a different strategy, starting freshman Daniel Ochefu and counting on Ochefu and Mouphtaou Yarou to be the Wildcats' main men on offense.

The plan worked well. The 6-foot-10 Yarou had 16 points and 13 rebounds for his first double-double of the season, the 6-11 Ochefu contributed a solid 25-minute effort and the Wildcats posted their seventh straight victory, 61-53, Wednesday night at the Sun Dome.

With Yarou and Ochefu dominating the boards, the Wildcats (11-4, 2-0 Big East) were able to race to an early lead that reached 17 points in the first half. They defended well enough to keep the Bulls (9-5, 0-2) at a safe, if at times shaky, length.

If you count 6-7 JayVaughn Pinkston, the Wildcats got 43 points from their inside players and 18 from their guards. Freshman Ryan Arcidiacono, who went for 32 points a week earlier against St. John's, took only five shots and scored five points while doing a good job of defending USF leader Anthony Collins.

"They're really good on the perimeter, one of the top three-point percentage defenses in the country," Wright said. "So we knew we weren't going to get Arch free like we have against other teams. We had to try to establish our inside game. I felt Mouph and Daniel early created a lot of confidence for all our forwards, just the way they played."

Villanova outrebounded USF, 42-32, and held a 17-2 advantage in second-chance points.

Yarou, a senior who roomed with Ochefu during the summer and mentored him in the ways of a Villanova basketball player, appeared to be having fun playing with the freshman, who had 12 points and eight rebounds (five offensive).

"Daniel played great," Yarou said. "He's going to be really good. I like him. He's always happy. He brings energy. He's a rebounder and a shot blocker. He's fun to play with."

Ochefu, who played in high school at the Westtown School, likes teaming with Yarou as well.

"Whenever he plays like that, we're a tough team to beat," Ochefu said. "We all know he has that energy. We see that in practice. So it's great to see him do that."

The Bulls' biggest threat came on a 9-1 run that ended with Victor Rudd's three-point basket, pulling USF to within 49-41 with seven minutes remaining. But Ochefu made a great pass that resulted in a Yarou dunk, and followed up a missed shot the next time down to make it a 12-point margin.

USF didn't cut the deficit to less than 10 again until a half-court heave that went in at the final buzzer.

"I think that probably was the best game we've played this year," Wright said.

Contact Joe Juliano at jjuliano@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @joejulesinq

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