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Villanova vs. Marquette final score: `Cats overcome sloppy start to win 70-52

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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe we should just pretend it didn't happen...

It took a while for the gears to get going, but the Villanova Wildcats were able to handle the Marquette Golden Eagles Wednesday night, 70-52. Ryan Arcidiacono lead all scorers with 18 points.

The Wildcats could not find any offense to start the game, hitting only 1 of their 8 attempted field goals. Luckily Marquette had similar success as they were 3-10. The Golden Eagles' center Luke Fischer had 4 points to start the game, and ultimately had 9 points.

With `Nova down 6-5, Josh Hart drove to the basket and hit a layup after getting fouled, giving them their first lead of the game. Hart had 11 points on 4-13 shooting along with 6 rebounds.

Turnovers were an issue for both squads; `Nova had 5 by the first TV timeout. Marquette coughed it up 11 times in the first half while Villanova did so 8 times. VU averages only 11 turnovers per game.

Daniel Ochefu gave the team its biggest lead at the time with a layup midway through the first half, and that lead was 12-6. Yes, that's how poor the offense was for both teams to start. However, back-to-back Matt Carlino threes tied the game.

That tie would soon disappear when Villanova spurred a 12-0 run in the next 2:54. In hindsight, this was where the game ended as Marquette would never get within single-digits of the Wildcats after that point.

Rebounding was key for the Wildcats, especially in the first half. While the shots were not falling, they grabbed 11 offensive rebounds in the first 15 minutes to keep Marquette from forming a big lead. They outrebounded MU 28-21 in the first half and 44-38 throughout the game.

Efforts by Luke Fischer and Juan Anderson brought the Golden Eagles within 12 to begin the second half, but JayVaughn Pinkston and  Ryan Arcidiacono kept a fair distance from the two teams.

After three straight single-digit point outings, JVP has gotten double-digits in back-to-back games. He scored 10-points last night on 3-8 shooting, 4-4 from the free throw line, with 7 rebounds. Wright had said he wanted to get JayVaughn going in the next few games, and he is definitely progressing in the right direction.

Ryan Arcidiacono was no doubt the MVP of the game. The junior had 18 points on 5-9 (4-7) with 2 assists and rebounds each. Whenever the team struggled to get any offense going, or Marquette looked like they were threatening, Arch was able to convert on a big 3-pointer to get his team inspired again. The captain in him is on full display down the stretch.

There was a scary moment in the second half when Arcidiacono drew a foul on Carlino, who had jumped to try and block Arch's shot under the basket. When Carlino and Arch collided, Carlino landed directly on his head without cushioning his fall. He stayed on the floor for a while before eventually jogging back to the bench on his own power. Within a few minutes he was back on the floor.

Out of the 8:00-TV timeout, Duane Wilson hit a bucket followed by a three by Sandy Cohen III. Wright immediately called timeout even though the lead was at 18 with 5:30 remaining in the game. Arch and Phil Booth hit field goals to erase that minor scare.

The freshman had a solid game off the bench; Booth shot 4-7 (2-2) to finish the night with 10 points. He played only 16 minutes last night.

Josh Hart was not efficient on offense, he shot under 25% from the floor, however his toughness more than made up for that. Other than his drawn foul on his layup mentioned above, he grabbed 3 offensive rebounds. It's always great to see Wildcats stepping up in more ways than one.

Darryl Reynolds, Kevin Rafferty, Patrick Farrell and Henry Lowe all saw the court at the end of the game. Lowe even attempted a 3-pointer which unfortunately did not go in.

Villanova improves to 7-2 in the conference while Marquette falls to 2-8. Villanova keeps their sole possession of first place.

The Wildcats next take on the Georgetown Hoyas on Saturday at 2:00pm. The game is on FOX.