USA TODAY Sports
While Ryan Arcidiacono and Anthony Collins battled it out in the backcourt to a stalemate, the Villanova frontcourt dominated the game.
Despite the week-long layoff, the Villanova Wildcats (11-4, 2-0) came out with a composed and well executed gameplan to take care of business down south, knocking off the South Florida Bulls (9-5,0-2) 61-53 at the Sun Dome. While many expected the spotlight to be on Ryan Arcidiacono and Anthony Collins, it was the 'Nova frontcourt that shone brightest.
Mouphtaou Yarou and Daniel Ochefu, the latter starting for the first time this season, carried the Wildcats early on as they jumped out to an early 7 point lead and never really looked back, despite a brief flurry of three pointers from Toarlyn Fitzpatrick.
Throughout the first half, Villanova continued to look inside for it's offense, with the frontline of Yarou, Ochefu, and JayVaughn Pinkston having their way with an undersized USF group. Yarou would go into the half with 9 points and 10 rebounds while Ochefu chipped in with 10 and 5. Yarou would finish the game with a 16 and 14 line while Ochefu finished with 12 and 8.
Villanova took a 34-20 into the half as their defense took a page out of USF's playbook and completely suffocated their opponent. Victor Rudd, expected to have a big impact, was virtually invisible, posting a 3-11 effort from the field courtesy of Achraf Yacoubou and James Bell. Better yet, the offense took care of the ball en route to posting an 8:3 assist-turnover ratio at the break.
Though Nova's offense went a bit cold to open the second half, Mouphtaou Yarou begin to step up on both ends of the floor while Pinkston got himself more involved in the offense to finish the game with 15 points.
The Wildcats began to fade a bit as the game wore on and briefly gave USF some hope, the Bulls were unable to take advantage of a sloppy Villanova stretch as the game neared its finish. Pinkston and the rest of the frontcourt had an immense impact on the game as they provided the necessary offense to keep the Bulls at bay.
Villanova returns to action this Saturday when they take their perfect Big East record to the Carrier Dome to face the Syracuse Orange. The game tips off at 12 pm ET and will be available on ESPN3.