Late in the second half against St. John's, Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova's struggling sophomore guard, finally got his groove back at the most fitting time.
In what appeared to by a typical start for Arcidiacono, going 1-for-2 to begin the game and getting beat defensively, he made even the most cautious fans into believers. In the first half he curled off a screen to the top of the floor and attempted a contested three. Splash.
The second half, he grabbed a board and split two defenders and found space in the open floor. He stopped, waited for a streaking Kris Jenkins and released a laser across the court. Jenkins took two steps and pulled the trigger without any hesitation. Bang.
No. 8 Villanova went on an 8-0 run with less than five minutes to play in the second half and closed out St. John's on the road at Madison Square Garden 74-67 in front of a large Wildcat contingent in New York City. The win was Villanova's (15-1, 4-0 Big East) 1,600th in the program's storied history and they are still undefeated in conference play.
In his return to the "Big Apple," JayVaughn Pinkston paced the Wildcats offensively. The junior forward and McDonald's All-American recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, but did find ways to hurt the team with four turnovers of his own. Five different Wildcats scored in double figures against the Red Storm, standout freshman Josh Hart finished with 14 points, five rebounds and two steals.
After a slow start, 1-for-10 from the field, Darrun Hiliard found his points at the free throw line and finished with ten points. But the story of the game was the resurgence of Arcidiacono who had 13 points on 3-for-4 shooting and two assists, his best offensive game all season. Even in limited action, Daniel Ochefu had 10 points and seven rebounds along with two huge blocks to start the contest.
This also happened:
In the sloppy contest, both teams started the game 2-for-8 from the field, but the second half would prove to be much different. St. John's (9-6, 0-3 Big East), had five turnovers in the first half, which they cut to three in the second set. Though he shot poorly from the field, D'Angelo Harrison abused the Wildcats backcourt, carving his way to the line nearly ten times and scoring 22 points.
This is what it looked like at the half:
Freshman guard and Philly prospect, Rysheed Jordan, was key for the Johnnies second half spurt, he chipped in 12 points of his own in the losing effort.
The Wildcats beat the Red Storm on the boards 46-38. The club held their Big East foe to 16.7 percent from deep and forced them to shoot 66 shots in the contest. Villanova still had some sloppy ball-handling, coughing up the rock 13 times during the win compared to eight times for St. John's.
The Red Storm also tallied 30 fouls against the Wildcats. Their length stifled Villanova's offensive output, scoring below their season average for 74 points. St. John's racked up seven steals and six blocks, but couldn't move the ball well resulting in only five assists all game.
But the positives outweight the negative for the Wildcats in one way, it appears that Arch may finally be back. He scored 14 points earlier in the week against Seton Hall and now has back-to-back double digit outputs for the first time since the stretch from Towson to the first night in the Bahamas.
Arch got his groove back, and made sure the Big East was watching when the lights were the brightest, when the stage was the biggest.
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