Game ended at approximately 9:15 PM eastern time. Villanova Wildcats defeat South Florida Bulls 83-71. Some notes on the game are below.
-This Big East affair started out slow as there were only 7 total points combined through the first five minutes of action. After the teams got into the pace of the game, shots began to find net. Dominic Cheek made a couple of threes and Antonio Pena knocked down some mid-range jumpers to give the Wildcats a 19-10 lead halfway through.
-Even though Nova had built a slight cushion, their aggressive defense burned them, as the fouls piled up in a hurry. With the visitors over the limit already, the Bulls hit a bunch of free throws to spark an 11-3 run, cutting the deficit to 22-21 with seven minutes left.
-The Bulls took a brief 1 poiint lead, but that was quickly answered by some Villanova steals, which created easy fastbreak points. A Corey Fisher theft and reverse layup with two seconds left gave the Cats a 5 point lead heading into halftime.
-Halftime score: Villanova 35 South Florida 30
More on the game after the jump...
-Fisher and Maalik Wayns, who were both virtually non-existent on the offensive end in the first half, came out looking to score in the second stanza. With some tough drives to the bucket, the Cats extended their lead to 10 by the first media timeout.
-The resilient Bulls didn't fold the tent though. Behind a nice alley-oop in transition and a four point play, USF gained some momentum and only trailed by 5 with ten minutes to go in the game.
-The Cats needed an answer and who else but Corey Stokes to the rescue. Just like we saw in the Temple game, Stokes demanded the ball and did not disappoint; he simply could not be stopped from anywhere on the court. After putting up 9 points early in the second half, he drained a few more threes when the Bulls started to threaten to give VU a little breathing room down the stretch. Complimenting Stokes was the shooting of the usually erratic Dominic Cheek and with four minutes left, Stokes and co. led by 12.
-South Florida was forced into some tough shots late in the game out of desperation, but a rally was never really mounted. The good guys hit their free throws to seal their first conference road victory.
-In terms of stats, Corey Stokes and Dominic Cheek went a combined 12-14 from the field, including 9-9 from downtown. Stokes had 22 points, while Cheek notched 17. Maalik Wayns had a stellar all around game with 16 points (10-12 from the line) and 9 dimes. Corey Fisher contributed 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 steals. To cap off the balanced effort, Antonio Pena scored 11 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. For the Bulls, feature player Augustus Gilchrist had a double-double with 16 points and 10 boards. Ohio State transfer Anthony Crater assisted 8 times.
- Nova fans have to be happy with the output from the complimentary players such as Cheek and Pena. When one player doesn't have to carry the team on offense, Villanova is very, very tough to defend.
- South Florida just killed themselves with stupid turnovers. Villanova had 11 steals on the night and aside from Corey Stokes and Dom Cheek, that was the difference in the game.
- The Cats did have a ton of fouls in the first half, which is obviously reminiscent of last year's team, but I wasn't overly alarmed. The stupid fouls are what plagued last year's squad, but Villanova was creating turnovers with their aggressive defense tonight.
- What else can you say about Stokes? Kemba Walker has been the best in the Big East thus far, but Corey is rapidly getting his name in the mix for Big East Player of the Year.