DePaul Blue Demons (9-7, 3-0) vs. Villanova Wildcats (14-1, 2-1) – Saturday January 10th, 3:00 p.m. Central – The Pavilion, Villanova, Pennsylvania
Television – CBS Sports Network
Radio – WYLL AM 1160
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As DePaul enters their game against the No.8-ranked Villanova Wildcats, it comes in brimming with confidence, as they find themselves in rarefied air as leaders of the Big East at 3-0 after most recently beating Creighton, 70-60, on Wednesday night.
The Blue Demons have been a new team since beginning conference play. After losing six straight games to end the non-conference schedule, DePaul (9-7, 3-0) looks rejuvenated and is looking to bury the past indiscretions of their six-game losing streak.
It's just too bad they might run into a buzzsaw in the Wildcats on Saturday. At 14-1 (2-1 in conference play) and with only an overtime loss at Seton Hall on their ledger, Villanova is looking like the real deal this year and a legitimate threat to make a run at the Final Four. They are coming off a 90-72 win at St. John's on Tuesday. The Wildcats showed their toughness to pull away late after a mostly back-and-forth affair with the Red Storm.
Villanova gets great balance from their starters and there is not one particular individual you have to focus in on, as Villanova gets great balance. In fact, in a lot of ways the Wildcats are a lot like the Demons in that regard, as they have five players who average in double figures, whereas the Demons place four in double figures (with all four in the top-15 in the Big East).
Darrun Hilliard II lead the Wildcats with 13 points per game while connecting on .358 percent of his three-point attempts. In all, Villanova has seven guys averaging between 7.7 and 13 points per game, with eight players averaging at least 13 minutes per game.
"DePaul is playing better this year (and) they're playing significantly better in their last three games," stated Villanova coach Jay Wright. "They've been playing with four guards and the fifth guy is a 3-point shooter. They're better defensively because of that and they're far better offensively because of that.”
"They are a really difficult team to prepare for and a really difficult team to play."
In fact, Wright sees parallels between his own roster and the one that coach Oliver Purnell brings to Villanova Saturday.
“They're very similar to us," notes Wright.
Villanova center Daniel Ochefu has been really starting to come into his own this season, and is quickly becoming one of the better frontcourt performers in the entire country. He averages 10.3 points per game to go with a conference-leading (tied with Butler's Kameron Woods) nine rebounds per game and .663 shooting from the field. Ochefu absolutely dominated the paint against the Red Storm on Tuesday, going for 13 points and 13 rebounds. If it wasn't for Ochefu's 19 points and whopping 24 rebounds against Seton Hall, Villanova would not have been in that game. Simply put, he is one of the most improved players in the country.
Point guard Ryan Arcidiacono leads the team in assists (4.3 apg) while chipping in 7.9 points per game. He is uncharacteristically shooting a miserable .220 percent from three-point range and .313 overall from the field. Arcidiacono is veteran, though, and has been through the wars of the Big East and has to be accounted for no matter the slump he finds himself in.
In all, this is a dangerous Nova team from top-to-bottom and they don't have many weaknesses; as they can shoot the ball, rebound the ball, get up and down the floor and guard you like nobody's business. They are not a top-10 team by accident.
Perhaps DePaul's Forrest Robinson, who is coming off a career game at Creighton where he erupted for six three-pointers en route to a career-high 20 points, summed up the Villanova game best.
"It’s our biggest game of the year, because it’s our next game,” Robinson said after the win over Creighton. “After that, the next game will be the biggest game of the year.”
The Last Time
On February 12, 2014, the sixth ranked Villanova Wildcats handed the Blue Demons an 87-62 defeat at Allstate Arena.
Villanova shot 68.4 percent from the floor and 70 percent from beyond the arc in the second half as they cemented the win.
The Wildcats had five players finish in double-figures tonight. Darrun Hilliard led the way with 22 points. James Bell added 16 points. Jayvaughn Pinkston and Ryan Arcidiacono contributed with 14 apiece. Kris Jenkins came in off the bench to chip in with 11.
DePaul struggled on the night while shooting just 37 percent from the field for the game and going zero for seven on threes in the second half.
BrandonYoung led the Blue Demons with a season-high 27 points while going 9 of 17 on the night. Sandi Marcius added 10 points and seven rebounds in a starting role for DePaul.
No. Name Pos. Cl. (Exp.) Ht. Wt. Hometown High School
0 Henry Lowe Guard JR 5-11 185 New York, N.Y. The Dalton School
2 Kris Jenkins Forward SO 6-6 240 Upper Marlboro, Md. Gonzaga College High School
3 Josh Hart Guard SO 6-5 205 Silver Spring, Md. Sidwell Friends
4 Darrun Hilliard Guard SR 6-6 215 Bethlehem, Pa. Liberty
5 Phil Booth Guard FR 6-3 185 Baltimore, Md. Mount Saint Joseph
14 Darryl Reynolds Forward SO 6-8 225 Philadelphia, Pa. Lower Merion HS/Worcester Academy
15 Ryan Arcidiacono Guard JR 6-3 195 Langhorne, Pa. Neshaminy
20 Patrick Farrell Forward JR 6-5 200 Rockville Centre, N.Y. Chaminade
22 JayVaughn Pinkston Forward RS SR 6-7 235 Brooklyn, N.Y. Bishop Loughlin
23 Daniel Ochefu Forward JR 6-11 245 Baltimore, Md. Downingtown East
25 Mikal Bridges Guard/Forward FR 6-7 191 Malvern, Pa. Great Valley
31 Dylan Ennis Guard RS JR 6-2 192 Brampton, Ontario Lake Forest Academy
52 Kevin Rafferty Forward JR 6-8 215 Malvern, Pa. Malvern Prep