No. 8 Villanova rolls past Seton Hall

Villanova's Darrun Hilliard blocks a shot by Seton Hall's Jaren Sina in the first half.    JOE EPSTEIN / Associated Press
Villanova's Darrun Hilliard blocks a shot by Seton Hall's Jaren Sina in the first half.    JOE EPSTEIN / Associated Press
Posted: January 10, 2014

NEWARK, N.J. - Villanova has found its shooting eye since the Big East Conference season began, and it served the Wildcats well again Wednesday night against shorthanded Seton Hall.

The eighth-ranked Wildcats shot 50 percent or better from the field for the third consecutive game, knocked down 12 three-point baskets, placed four players in double figures, and beat the Pirates, 83-67, at the Prudential Center.

Seven of the nine players used by coach Jay Wright made at least half of their shots as the Cats (14-1, 3-0 Big East) connected on 52 percent from the floor overall, and 52.2 percent from three-point range. In its last three games, 'Nova is shooting 54.1 percent from the field.

"We're doing a good job offensively of sharing the ball," Wright said. "I think we turn it over a little bit too much, which helps the shooting percentage since we don't get credited for a shot missed. But we do share the ball and I think we're doing a good job of finding good shots."

The Wildcats' JayVaughn Pinkston, the team's top post player on offense, did a fine job of passing out of Seton Hall's double team when he got the ball inside.

"It was just a matter of settling down and seeing where my guys were," said Pinkston, who scored 17 points, including a dunk with 1 minute, 37 seconds to play that gave him more than 1,000 points for his career. "It was just getting into the flow of the game, finding my teammates, and making the extra pass for threes."

Darrun Hilliard had four three-pointers and led the Wildcats with 19 points. Ryan Arcidiacono had three treys and scored 14 points, his first double-figure performance since the St. Joseph's game on Dec. 7.

"He's kind of finding that balance between running the team with a lot of good scorers around him and being aggressive," Wright said. "Last year, he had to score a lot more. This year he doesn't have to, but we still want him to. He's finding that balance."

Seton Hall (10-6, 1-2), which was led by Brian Oliver with 20 points, played without two injured starters - guard Fuquan Edwin (knee) and center Eugene Teague (concussion) - as well as key reserve Aaron Geramipoor (ankle).

The Pirates never stopped scrapping, even after Villanova hit six of its first eight from three-point territory to take a 28-17 lead midway through the first half. They cut the deficit to six by halftime and by five, 44-39, with 15:47 to play before the Wildcats gradually wore them down with their numbers and their shooting.

Wright gave credit to Pinkston for being able to find the open man, or to make the pass that led to an assist for a teammate.

"He's learning that to have a guy that the other team has to double-team . . . it shows a lot of respect and it makes everybody else better," Wright said. "You don't get assists for that, but you really shoot, because if not for JayVaughn, the other guys wouldn't be open."


jjuliano@phillynews.com

@joejulesinq

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