Arcidiacono paces Villanova in record-setting win

Arcidiacono paces Villanova in record-setting win
February 9, 2013, 8:15 pm
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BOX SCORE

He took four shots, he made one of them, and he controlled the game.
 
Villanova freshman Ryan Arcidiacono has made a name for himself with his scoring – 32 points against St. John’s, 25 vs. Marshall, 23 a few days ago out at DePaul.

At 11.7 points per game, he’s the second-leading freshman scorer in the Big East.
 
Then there are games like Saturday. Arcidiacono scored just three points. But it didn’t matter.
 
With his tremendous defense on South Florida point guard Anthony Collins, his ability to find the open man, his passing, his care with the ball, his ability to involve everybody on the court and his court leadership, Arcidiacono led Villanova to its second consecutive Big East Conference blowout, a record-setting 68-40 win over South Florida (see Instant Replay).
 
How important is Arcidiacono to the Wildcats?
 
Last year, when Arcidiacono was sitting out the year at Neshaminy High School with a back injury, South Florida beat Villanova three times by a combined 40 points.
 
This year, Villanova beat USF by 28.
 
Obviously, he’s not the only reason for the remarkable turnabout. But he’s a big part of it.
 
“I like getting people involved,” Arcidiacono said. “I could score zero points. As long as we win, it doesn’t matter to me. Honestly, I had so much fun out there. Shooting 1-for-4, what, three points, four assists, playing defense? I had a ton of fun just getting my teammates involved.”
 
South Florida’s 40 points are the fewest Villanova has ever allowed in a conference game since joining the Big East in 1980.
 
The win, on top of Villanova’s 94-71 win over DePaul on Tuesday, gives the Wildcats their first consecutive Big East wins by 20 or more points in 14 years -- since wins over Notre Dame (85-58) and Pitt (86-65) late in 1999.
 
Darrun Hilliard led Villanova with 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting, and Mouphtaou Yarou had 10 points and nine rebounds, both playing just 26 minutes.
 
But Arcidiacono was game MVP.
 
“That kid’s got the mind of a senior,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “That kid, Collins, that kid is really good … he runs everything they do, and Ryan guarded him the entire game. I didn’t even have to say it to him, I’m sure he came into the game saying, ‘I’m going to shut this kid down, and if I get shots, I get shots.’
 
“He had zero [points] at halftime, but he just did an outstanding job on Collins. That was an incredible effort by him.”
 
Collins, averaging 9.2 points per game, scored just two in 32 minutes for South Florida and committed three turnovers.
 
Arcidiacono had no turnovers and has just five in 134 minutes his last four games.
 
As a true freshman point guard. In the Big East.
 
“I was just trying to get my teammates involved,” Arcidiacono said. “I was getting my teammates shots and taking shots when I was open and trying not to force anything. I just let the game come to me. Had a couple assists here and there, a couple rebounds and just tried to do my best defensively and set the tone for us.”
 
Villanova, which won just 13 games all last year, improved to 15-9 overall and 6-5 in the Big East.
 
South Florida, which beat Temple in the NCAA tourney in Nashville last year, fell to 10-13 and 1-10 in the Big East. The Bulls have lost 10 of 11 since a 9-3 start.
 
The Bulls made just 11 of 47 shots (23 percent) and shot 1-for-17 from three (6 percent).
 
The previous low point total against ’Nova in a Big East game came in a 60-42 win vs. St. John’s on Feb. 16, 2008, at Madison Square Garden.
 
The fewest points Villanova had allowed in a home Big East game was in a 68-49 win over Providence at the Palestra in 1980 and again vs. USF at the Pavilion in 2010 in a 74-49 win.
 
The 40 points are the fewest points Villanova has allowed in any game since a 78-35 win against Stony Brook here in 2006.
 
USF had just 31 points with 3½ minutes left before Wright cleared the bench.
 
“We’ve been pretty consistent defensively, but I really like this where we had a lead at the half, and we knew we could score, it didn’t take away from our defensive commitment, that’s what I really liked,” Wright said.
 
“Even in the first half at DePaul we were making shots in the first half and I thought that we kind of relaxed defensively, so I was really pleased with that.”
 
’Nova led by five at 16-11 with nine minutes left in the first half, then held South Florida to two baskets over the next 18 minutes, outscoring the Bulls 34-9 during that stretch.
 
When Arcidiacono scores at least 25 percent of Villanova’s points, the Wildcats are 5-5. When he scores less, they’re 10-4.
 
On Saturday, he scored 6 percent, and they won by 28.
 
“That’s the good thing about us,” Arcidiacono said. “Anyone can go off on any night.
 
“We’re really balanced. It was Darrun and Mouph’s day, and I knew that, and I was facilitating, diving for loose balls, taking charges, whatever I could do. It’s all about doing whatever we have to do to win the game.”