There's the Big 5 championship, which the No. 6 Wildcats already
have wrapped up. There is the Big East championship, which they
certainly will compete for both in the regular season and
postseason. But one thing they don't list is a 20-win season.
Maybe that is because I has become such a regular achievement.
"It's nice, but I don't think that's one we've talked about," Wright
said about the milestone. "We talk about the Big 5, we talk about
the Big East, tournaments we play in. You can throw that one in
there, it's good — we'll throw our record in there, that's what it
Villanova hit the 20-win plateau for the ninth time in the last 10
seasons on Monday night, getting a big second half from senior
forward James Bell in a 81-58 win over Xavier.
The Wildcats, who led by as many as 11 points in the first half, put
some distance between themselves and the Musketeers with a 15-4 run
midway through the second half, turning a four-point advantage into
a 51-36 lead with 11:56 remaining.
The charge was led by Bell and junior shooting guard Darrun
Hilliard. The pair combined to score 19 straight Villanova points
during a 6:38 stretch after intermission.
"Juniors and seniors, man," Wright said. "It's just so nice to have
them in college basketball, guys that are really mature and they've
seen it all."
Bell's shooting was a big reason Villanova expanded the lead as the
game went on. He finished with 27 points after going into halftime
with just six. He finished 6-of-10 from 3-point range and 10-of-14
overall as his team shot just under 50 percent (32-of-65) overall.
"When we got down 15, we decided to make a decision to press,"
Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "When we started to trap and try to
get turnovers, they made us pay with open threes."
Hilliard finished with 15 points for Villanova (20-2, 8-1 Big East),
while forward JayVaughn Pinkston had 11 points and eight rebounds.
Xavier (15-7, 5-4) lost its third straight game and allowed 40-plus
points after halftime for the fourth game in a row.
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"We're getting our (butt) kicked in the second half," Mack said. "We
look a step slow, in all three of those losses."
Sophomore guard Semaj Christon led the Musketeers with 17 points,
while junior center Matt Stainbrook had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Xavier forward Justin Martin scored 13 despite playing just 15
minutes due to foul difficulties.
Pinkston was just 5-of-24 (20.8 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc
before Monday's game. However, he hit all three of his 3-point
attempts in the first half to help the Wildcats to a 28-22 lead at
Villanova used its defense to take control of the game at the
outset. The Wildcats held Xavier to 2-of-9 shooting and five
turnovers in the first six-plus minutes as they opened up an early
The Musketeers were able to slow the Wildcats down later in the
half, as Villanova made just two of its final 10 shots of the half.
Xavier struggled with turnovers in the first half, giving the ball
away 11 times to Villanova's three. The Musketeers are last in the
Big East in turnover margin (-1.2 per game) and finished with 16
turnovers to Villanova's seven.
NOTES: Villanova wore its alternate home gray uniforms for the first
time. ...Villanova leads the all-time series against Xavier 17-4.
The only other time Xavier visited the Pavilion was during the 1994
National Invitation Tournament, when Villanova won by two points.
...The 22 points Xavier scored in the first half was a team low for
points in a half this season. The Musketeers scored 23 points in a
half on two previous occasions, on Nov. 29 at Tennessee and on Dec.
14 against Cincinnati. ... Villanova improved to 10-0 at its
on-campus arena, with its only home loss of the season coming
against Creighton at the Wells Fargo Center.
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