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Sizzling second-half shooting pushes Villanova past DePaul

The SportsXchange

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Once Villanova's shots started falling in the second half Tuesday, they never seemed to stop.

The Wildcats scored on 11 of their first 12 second-half possessions to sprint past host DePaul on the way to a 94-71 Big East victory.

"We just tried to find each other, we made extra passes, and we got wide-open shots," said guard Ryan Arcidiacono, who collected a game-high 23 points.

Villanova solved DePaul's press and sprinted from a 40-40 halftime tie, eventually overwhelming the hosts.

"We played aggressively, we played intelligently," said Wildcats coach Jay Wright, whose hot-shooting team put six players in double figures and snapped a two-game losing streak.

"That was our best game, we played really well. We played Providence on Sunday, and they pressed us the whole game and we didn't handle it well ... If you give us do-overs, we're good."

Villanova (14-9, 5-5 Big East) also broke out of a 3-point shooting slump, going 10-for-18 from beyond the arc. Arcidiacono hit five of his 10 tries.

Cleveland Melvin scored 19 points for DePaul. The Blue Demons (10-12, 1-8) have lost seven straight and nine of their past 10 games.

Also in double figures for Villanova were Darrun Hilliard (17 points), James Bell (16), Mouphtaou Yarou and JayVaughn Pinkston (11 each), and Tony Chennault (10).

Jamee Crockett added 16 points for DePaul. Worrel Clahar had 12, and Brandon Young scored 11.

"We didn't start the game with the kind of (defensive) juice that we have the last couple of games," DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. "And we certainly didn't start the second half that way ... (And) when Villanova shoots the 3-ball pretty decently, they're tough to handle. We didn't take that away from them."

The Wildcats made more than 90 percent of their early-second-half shots, and they were still hitting at a 79.2 percent pace for the half with less than six minutes to play.

Villanova eventually settled for 59.6 percent for the game (34-for-57).

The Wildcats, who came into the game having lost five of their previous seven, ran their series winning streak to six. They lead the overall series with the Blue Demons 14-9.

Villanova hit a combined 16 3-pointers in recent wins over Louisville and Syracuse, but in previous two games against Notre Dame and Providence, the Wildcats went just 5-for-25.

The Wildcats opened the second half with an 11-3 run, as Arcidiacono scored five points, including his third 3-pointer of the night.

The lead reached double digits for the first time with 13:37 to go on Pinkston's layup. Villanova made five straight shots as it opened a 65-53 lead with 11:39 showing.

With less than six minutes to play, the lead had ballooned to 85-60. DePaul never got closer than 22 points the rest of the way.

The Wildcats appeared to rediscover their missing 3-point game in the first half.

Villanova went 4-for-11 from long range in the opening 20 minutes as the teams battled to a halftime deadlock.

DePaul shot even better in a competitive first half, going 7-for-14 from beyond the arc. Clahar was 3-for-3.

There were three lead changes and seven ties before halftime, including the last one of the half on Melvin's layup with 16 seconds left as DePaul forced the tie.

Melvin collected a game-high 12 points in the opening half, while Arcidiacono topped the Wildcats with nine.

"We were pretty exhausted," DePaul's Crockett said, "but that's definitely not an excuse. We just didn't come out and play with as much energy."

NOTES: Yarou has 936 career points with eight regular-season games plus the Big East tournament still ahead in a bid to top 1,000. ... The pivotal number for the Wildcats his season appears to be 70. When they've scored 70 or more points, they're 9-1. When below, Villanova is 4-8. ... DePaul is on track for its seventh losing season in eight Big East campaigns. The Blue Demons were 3-15 last year and 1-17 in each of the two previous seasons. Their only winning campaign was 2006-07, when they were 9-7. ... DePaul's run of consecutive games with 3-point field goals hit 600 in last Saturday's 79-71 overtime loss to Notre Dame. The last time the Blue Demons went without a 3-pointer was nearly 20 years ago (Feb. 16, 1993 against Alabama-Birmingham). ... The Notre Dame loss was the first time DePaul has played back-to-back overtimes games since 1987-88. They had a 71-62 extra-session loss to St. John's on Jan. 19. The Demons have never played three straight overtime games. ... The Wildcats return to the Pavilion to host South Florida on Saturday for what's expected to be their Big East-leading 10th sellout. DePaul is on the road for a game at Marquette.
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