'Nova routs outmanned Providence

Posted: January 07, 2014

WHEN VILLANOVA is draining them from deep, it can hang with anyone, the Daily News has learned. Ask Syracuse. On Dec. 28, the Wildcats were winning by 18 in the first half at the Carrier Dome. Problem was, they couldn't keep it going against the Orange zone, which helps explain why they ended up losing that one by 16.

It's their lone blemish.

Providence isn't Syracuse. But the Friars did beat Villanova twice last season, and had won three of the last four meetings. Not this time. Last night at the Pavilion, the Wildcats - who rarely get an open three-pointer they won't take - came out blazing. They were shooting 32.6 percent from the arc coming in. That number will go up. They made 10 of their first 11 shots and, after scoring the first nine and 17 of the first 20, were up 26-8 less than 7 minutes in.

By the half the lead was 24. It would grow to as much as 34, more than once. Your final was 91-61.

After 12 1/2 minutes, the 11th-ranked team in the country had more misses than the visitors had makes. And even a lot of those misses looked good. For what it's worth at this point in the journey, the Wildcats should move back into the Top 10 since three of the teams that were ahead of them lost. But it's still way early.

They're at Seton Hall (10-5, 1-1) Wednesday.

This was their first Big East home game. On New Year's Eve they needed overtime to win their conference opener at Butler.

"If they shoot like that . . . they could beat the Globetrotters," said Providence coach Ed Cooley, whose injury/suspension-depleted team dropped its third straight to fall to 10-5. The first two were in OT.

One of those personnel losses was freshman guard Brandon Austin, from Imhotep Charter, who decided to leave after being suspended for the season for violating the school's code of conduct. Cooley could have used him.

With so many perimeter guys in a nine-deep rotation, this is the way the Wildcats are going to come at you. They apply pressure all over, trying to force an up tempo. It has worked a lot more than it hasn't.

"Once we jumped on them like we did, it was tough for them to play from behind," said coach Jay Wright. "It kind of fell into place for us. I guarantee it won't be like that at Providence [on Feb. 18]. When we got them to play faster, it made a big difference.

"Some nights [our style] might look really good. When it's not, we have to find other ways. When you're making shots, everything's going to look good. We can do that. It's not a surprise. We have shooters. But this team's going to have some ugly nights [too]. So we do have to mix it up."

James Bell, their second-leading scorer, played only 5 minutes because of foul issues. And he still made both his treys. It was that kind of evening.

Forward JayVaughn Pinkston, their top scorer, missed his only three but went 8-for-11 from inside the arc, which is what he does, to finish with 19 points in 24 minutes. Dylan Ennis, the sophomore transfer, had a season-high 17, four off his career best set two seasons ago at Rice, in 20 minutes off the bench. He shot 6-for-9, 4-for-5. Darrun Hilliard added 15, Josh Hart 10. Ten of the 13 who played scored. And the three who didn't score played 5 minutes between them.

Providence had 17 turnovers.

The Wildcats shot 34-for-57 (59.6 percent), 14-for-26 from the arc. The Friars, who had 12 more points at the foul line, were held to 35 percent from the field.

It was the Wildcats' biggest Big East win since they beat West Virginia here, 84-46, on Jan. 5, 2005.

"Obviously it's good for us when they're falling," said Hilliard. "But for us, it's all about defense and rebounding. That's what we pride ourselves on.

"But [making shots] does kind of make it easier."

At Butler, Ennis played 5 minutes. That's the kind of depth Wright has going for him. With some groups, too much of a good thing has been known to occasionally get in the way. Yet this one doesn't seem too concerned with who's getting it done at any given time. And that can never be a bad thing.

"It's not a dilemma," Wright stressed.

Then, by all means continue firing. Just try to keep those uglies to a minimum.

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