The Wildcats are undefeated in the Wells Fargo Center this season. (Lucas Migliarino / The Villanovan)
by Arman Asemani
The Wildcats closed out the regular season in familiar style by beating a nationally ranked top-5 team at the Wells Fargo Center for the third time this season.
Villanova defeated No.5 Georgetown by a score of 67-57 in front of a crowd of 13,685.
The victory propelled the Wildcats to 10-8 in the Big East Conference and 19-12 in overall play.
Additionally, the Wildcats, who have not been nationally ranked at any point this season, are 4-2 against AP ranked opponents.
Entering the game, all eyes were on Georgetown’s sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. (No. 22) who is a projected lottery pick in this summer’s NBA draft.
After the game, highlights featured Villanova’s own No. 22, redshirt sophomore forward JayVaughn Pinkston, who led all players with 20 points and five steals.
The Hoyas bolted to a 7-0 lead by the 18:23 mark in the first half. Scoring then slowed down dramatically.
The Wildcats were the first team to reach double digits on the scoreboard from a 3-point jumper by junior guard James Bell at the 12:04 mark of the first half.
Bell’s 3-pointer ignited a 10-2 point run over a three and a half minute span and gave the Wildcats their first lead of the game.
Georgetown would retake the lead with an ensuing layup.
Seconds later Bell provided the Wildcats with a second 3-point jumper and another lead which would not be surrendered as the Wildcats controlled the scoreboard the rest of the game.
The Wildcats led the Hoyas 33-29 at halftime. The Wildcats have led at halftime in six of their 12 losses this year, but maintained control the entire second half en route to a 10-point victory.
The Wildcats dominated the free-throw line, attempting 42 shots to Georgetown’s eight tries, and converting 30 of those attempts compared to four by the Hoyas.
This advantage allowed the Wildcats to outscore the Hoyas despite attempting 16 less field goals than Georgetown.
Also, the Wildcats capitalized on Georgetown’s 22 turnovers to generate 15 steals and 24 points off turnovers.
A balanced offense by the Wildcats featured four starters scoring double digits.
Pinkston paced the Wildcats with 20 points. Sophomore guard Darrun Hilliard scored 14 points. Freshman guard Ryan Arcidiacono pitched in 11 points while leading all players with six assists, including a lob pass to Bell for a highlight reel dunk that helped Bell tally 10 points.
Prior to tip-off, Wildcats senior forward Mouphtaou Yarou was recognized as the tenth Wildcat in Villanova history to accumulate 1,000 points and 800 rebounds over the course of a collegiate basketball career.
Yarou added to his rebound total by leading all players with 12 rebounds.
Porter Jr. provided 17 points and freshman guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera contributed 14 points off the bench for the Hoyas who fell to 13-4 in the Big East Conference and 23-5 overall.
The 10-point loss was Georgetown’s largest road loss for the season. Before the game, Georgetown was in position for a top seed in the Big East Conference Tournament and NCAA tournament.
After the loss, Georgetown maintained first place seeding in the conference tournament, but a top seed in the NCAA tournament may have been jeopardized.
As far as the Wildcats’ NCAA tournament aspirations, they seem destined to dance.
Despite tough defeats to losing record teams Columbia and Seton Hall, the Wildcats can certainly boast their four victories against ranked opponents as tournament credentials.
Bracketproject.com, a site and blog dedicated to collecting dozens of brackets from noteworthy sources, currently projects Villanova as a firm No. 11 seed.
The most recent update had accumulated brackets from 98 newspapers and experts, and the Wildcats were in 94 of them, with an average seeding of 10.98.
Joe Lunardi has ’Nova as a No. 11 seed as well (as of deadline), facing UNLV in the first round.
A loss to St. John’s in the first roud of the Big East Tournament would certainly place the ’Cats back on the bubble, but all things considered, many pundits have Villanova solidly in March Madness
The final game of the regular season solidified statistics for team leaders this year.
Pinkston led the team with 12.9 points per game. Yarou led the team with 7.7 rebounds per game and ranked fourth among all Big East Conference players.
Arcidiacono led the team with made free throw percentage at 82.1percent, a mark that placed him sixth among all Big East Conference players and first among freshmen in the conference.
At 3.5 assists per game, Arcidiacono also led the team in this statistic and was tied with Pittsburgh’s James Robinson as freshmen conference leaders.
Arcidiacono led his first-year Big East contemporaries in yet another category with 67 made 3-point jumpers. He made the Big East All-Freshman team.
Bell led the team in made three-point jumper percentage at 38.1 percent which placed him 10th in the Big East conference in shooting from beyond the arc.