This season, DePaul started conference play as a bit of a surprise, taking an early lead in the conference standings. In their first meeting with the Blue Demons, the Villanova Wildcats handled them easily, but it was more of a challenge when the 'Cats had to head out to Chicago for the encore.
Down 37-31 at halftime, Villanova needed a second-half comeback effort to ultimately take the thirteen point victory over the Big East's Chicago entry -- 68-55.
It was a greater emphasis on defense that seemed to get it done, combined with an 18-point outburst from junior point guard Ryan Arcidiacono; he scored all of his points after halftime, going 5-of-10 from the field and 2-of-5 from deep in the contest. The win ensured that the Wildcats, who have just two losses in conference play, would re-take the best record in the Big East.
After a sluggish start to the game, Nova started the second-half strong with a 14-4 run that flipped their deficit to a small lead. JayVaughn Pinkston aided the effort with 10 made free throws without a miss to end the game, scoring 14 points in total, with Darrun Hilliard adding 11 points as well, as one of the few bright spots on offense in the early going. Villanova turned the ball over 10 times to DePaul's eight.
Villanova's defense allowed the Demons to shoot 52 percent from the field in the first half, but after a halftime breather, the home team struggled, missing eight of their first nine attempts from the floor and scoring just 18 points in total.
The Wildcats also won the rebounding battle, grabbing 35 boards (11 offensive) to DePaul's 18 (4 offensive). They hadn't led a game in rebounding since edging out Xavier at the Pavilion on January 14th. Daniel Ochefu led the way for 'Nova with 12 boards.
Billy Garrett, Jr. was the top scorer for DePaul with 14 points, and his eight assists helped spread the rest of the team's scoring among his teammates, though just Tommy Hamilton IV (9) and Forrest Robinson (9) managed to come close to double-digits.
DePaul's current head coach Oliver Purnell has never won against Villanova as a head coach -- a streak that stretches back to the 2008 NCAA Tournament's first round, when Purnell was heading up the program at Clemson.