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Wright earns 400th win, Villanova tops Seton Hall

AP - Sports
Wright earns 400th win, Villanova tops Seton Hall
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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) -- Jay Wright walked off the court to Villanova students chanting ''400! 400!'' at the popular coach.

His milestone win was in the record book - and the Wildcats look primed to build quite a bit more on that total this season.

James Bell scored 20 points and JayVaughn Pinkston had 19 to lead No. 6 Villanova to its fifth straight victory, 70-53 over Seton Hall on Friday night.

Know as much for his tasteful designer suits worn without a wrinkle, Wright has won 278 games at Villanova (278-146; 2001-present) after going 122-85 at Hofstra (1994-2001). Wright has led his teams to 10 NCAA tournaments and took the Wildcats to the 2009 Final Four.

The Wildcats (21-2, 9-1 Big East) are perennial Big East contenders and this season's team is his best since '09.

''I just feel very fortunate to be able to coach at Villanova,'' Wright said. ''Whoever coaches at Villanova is going to get a lot of wins.''

Alexander Severance won 413 games over 25 seasons (1936-1961), John Kraft won 238 over 12 seasons and Rollie Massimino won 357 games in 19.

Wright and Massimino both have nine 20-win seasons at Villanova, though Massimino has the one win that really matters, the 1985 national championship over Georgetown.

''Some of it makes me feel old,'' Wright said, smiling. ''I just think about the next game. It's humbling when people talk about it.''

The 52-year-old Wright should have plenty of time to win a title on the Main Line. It's not a stretch to think these balanced Wildcats could make a deep run in March. When a player like Darrun Hilliard (13.7 points) is a non-factor offensively with just 10 points against the Pirates, a reserve like Dylan Ennis steps in and hits a 3 to stretch the lead to 51-36. Bell buried a 3 as the shot clock expired for a 56-40 lead, leaving just the finishing touches on Villanova's 10th win in its last 11 games.

Daniel Ochefu had 10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, including the game-changing buckets in the first half. He teamed with Pinkston inside to form a needed potent 1-2 punch on a night when the 3s weren't falling (5 of 21).

''You've got to have forwards that can make plays, and I thought Daniel and JayVaughn were just awesome,'' Wright said. ''Not just scoring, but playing off each other and guarding their perimeter guys sometimes. Just a big-time game from our two forwards.''

Sterling Gibbs led Seton Hall (13-10, 4-6) with 16 points

Seton Hall made only two baskets in the first 6 minutes of the second half and never seriously threatened the rest of the game.

The Pirates played without swingman Fuquan Edwin, their second leading scorer, and Eugene Teague, their top rebounder, in their 83-67 loss to Villanova on Jan. 8. Edwin and Teague were back in the lineup, but it didn't really matter - the Pirates haven't won a road game against Villanova since Feb. 26, 1994. The Pirates had 15 turnovers.

''We were just a little loose on the ball at times,'' Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. ''They do a good job, especially at home, in this building. They really turn up the heat. The students were great. I think it's a different atmosphere here than it is anywhere else.''

The Wildcats were coming off an 81-58 win over Xavier and have made a habit of thumping teams in most of their 21 wins.

But the power outage that swept through campus this week because of storms seemed to leave Villanova's offense unplugged for the first 16 minutes.

They missed their first seven 3-pointers until Bell connected late in the half.

Ochefu at last got the offense rolling, with a dunk; a pump-fake that led to an uncontested right-handed layup; and then another dunk off a perfect baseline pass from Pinkston that made it 29-26. Bell followed with a 3-pointer (Nova was 2 of 11 in the half) and they led 34-26 at halftime.

''My teammates were just driving the ball and the big guys were stepping up,'' Ochefu said. ''We practice that every day. Just stepping into the ball and dunking it.''

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