By that point, the damage was done.
It wasn't pretty early -- as Wright noted -- but the No. 8 Wildcats
sent their seniors off the floor of the Pavilion for the final time
in style, rolling to a 67-48 victory over Butler.
The 48 points were Butler's lowest total of the year, as Villanova
held the Bulldogs to 30.6 percent shooting (15 of 49).
"We played nine guys and cut the minutes down a little bit," Wright
said. "All nine guys really played well defensively. Sometimes when
we get to the younger guys, defensively we have lapses."
Villanova (25-3, 13-2 Big East) used a 21-3 run to push the score
from 39-28 to 60-31 in the middle of the second half.
Five Wildcats scored during that 5:43 stretch, including forward
Kris Jenkins, who sank 3-pointers on consecutive possessions.
All three Butler points during that span came from the free-throw
line, as the Wildcats' defense clamped down.
"They have multiple guys, interchangeable parts that can guard
different guys," Butler coach Brandon Miller said. "They can do a
lot of switching on and off the ball. There's not a lot of
mismatches for them."
Ten Wildcats scored Wednesday. Bell and fellow guard Darrun Hilliard
led the balanced Villanova attack with 11 points apiece. Guard Ryan
Arcidiacono pitched in nine points, while forwards JayVaughn
Pinkston and Josh Hart added eight points apiece. Hart collected a
game-high eight rebounds.
Villanova reached 25 wins for the fifth time in program history. No
Villanova team has ever won 26. This year's Wildcats still have
three regular-season games remaining: home games at the Wells Fargo
Center against Marquette and Georgetown, with a road matchup against
DePaul sandwiched in between.
"That's pretty cool," an unknowing Wright said. "This is a really
good group to coach. Our coaching staff really enjoys coaching these
guys. It's been a pleasure all year, but we can't let that prevent
us from driving them ... to get better. That's really our
Bell entered Wednesday's game needing 17 points to become the 58th
Villanova player to reach the 1,000-point club. Wright removed him
from the game with 4:30 left, six points shy of that mark.
Wright and Bell shared a brief moment on the sideline, though
neither coach nor player was aware that the milestone was lingering.
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"I had no clue," Wright said. "That would have been nice on senior
night. I probably wouldn't have done anything different. He could
have made a couple more shots."
Bell shot just 3-for-10 on the night, including 2-for-7 from beyond
the 3-point arc.
Butler (12-16, 2-14) was led by guard Kellen Dunham's 12 points and
seven rebounds. Forward Khyle Marshall added 10 points.
The first half started with poor shooting and turnovers from each
side. Through the first 10 minutes, the teams were a combined
5-for-24 from the field and the score was just 10-6 in favor of
From there, the Wildcats got hot. Villanova finished the half 10 of
28 from the floor after starting two of 12. Butler shot just
6-for-23 (26 percent) in the half.
The Wildcats got 3-pointers from Bell, Hilliard and Arcidiacono in
the final 5:19 of the half. During that stretch, the Wildcats used a
16-9 run to finish with a 34-20 lead.
Dunham beat the first-half buzzer with a 3-pointer. The 20 points
were Butler's lowest first-half output of the season.
Butler players not named Marshall or Dunham shot 7 of 26 (26.9
percent) on the night.
"We didn't play well enough to put ourselves in a position which we
would like to be in and give ourselves a chance to win," Miller
said. "They made it very difficult for us to get open looks all
NOTES: Before the teams met on New Year's Eve (a 76-73 overtime win
for Villanova), Butler was 10-2 and riding a five-game winning
streak. Since then, the Bulldogs are 2-14. ... Wednesday was
Butler's first appearance at the Pavilion. The teams have met just
three times overall, with Villanova leading the series 3-0. ...
Villanova G Ryan Arcidiacono was named to the Big East Honor Roll
and was chosen the Big 5 Player of the Week on Monday after he
averaged 16.5 points and 4.5 assists in wins over Providence and St.
John's. ... On Night for Villanova, Gs Nick McMahon, Tony Chennault
and James Bell were honored before the game.
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