Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Villanova downs Butler, matches team record at 13-0

Villanova, PA -- With stingy defense and a balanced attack, the No. 6 Villanova Wildcats opened Big East play and managed to match a long-held team record with a 67-55 win over the Butler Bulldogs in the final game of 2014.

Ryan Arcidiacono led Villanova (13-0, 1-0 Big East) with 15 points and five assists. JayVaughn Pinkston netted 13 points and Daniel Ochefu chipped in 10 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots.  The Wildcats have only started 13-0 one other time in team history, back in 1937-38.

"This is not a team where you can key in on one or two guys, where you can neutralize them in a particular game," said Butler interim boss Chris Holtmann. "One of the strengths of their team is balance."

The Wildcats limited the Bulldogs to 35.5 percent shooting, including just 5- of-21 inside the arc in the second half.

Butler (10-4, 0-1) was paced by Andrew Chrabascz's and Alex Barlow's 12 points each. Kellen Dunham netted 10 points, but Roosevelt Jones was limited to eight on 4-of-15 shooting.

Trailing just 36-32 at the break, Butler let the game get away from them in the opening minutes of the second half. Darrun Hilliard scored seven straight points coming out of the break to extend the Wildcats' advantage to 11 points.

"I thought in the first half they executed a little better than us, played a little harder than us," said Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "I thought in the second half we were really good defensively."

Jones hit a layup to end the Hilliard run, but Butler made only two more shots from the floor over the next 7 1/2 minutes as Villanova extended its lead to as much as 16 in the second half.

With Butler's poor shooting, the Wildcats could have run away for the game if not for their own struggles from the free throw line. They only shot 13-of-22 at the charity stripe in the second half and 61.5 percent for the game.

Villanova only hit two 3-pointers in the second half, but the second one by Kris Jenkins with 13 1/2 minutes remaining ran the Wildcats' lead to double digits where it would remain for the rest of the game.

Butler never led, but the Bulldogs hung in the game by dominating the offensive glass with a 17-3 advantage. They converted those extra rebounds into 11 second-chance points.

The Bulldogs opened the game shooting just 1-of-10 from the floor, but back- to-back triples from Barlow and Austin Etherington helped them tie the game at eight just over six minutes into the contest.

Notes: Villanova improved to 4-0 all-time against Butler, the program located in Indianapolis and once the pride of the Horizon League ... Hilliard missed Villanova's last game with a concussion ... The Bulldogs owned an 11-4 advantage in fastbreak points ... Both teams play next on Jan. 3 with Villanova traveling to Seton Hall and Butler visiting St. John's.

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