Villanova snags huge road win at Connecticut

Villanova snags huge road win at Connecticut
February 16, 2013, 3:30 pm
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HARTFORD, Conn. -- Ryan Arcidiacono scored 25 points and Villanova grabbed 20 offensive rebounds in beating Connecticut, 70-61, on the road Saturday.

Mouphtaou Yarou added 11 points and had 16 rebounds for the Wildcats (16-10, 7-6 Big East).

"He did everything tonight.  He was simply outstanding," Villanova coach Jay Wright told

Omar Calhoun scored 16 points to lead UConn (17-7, 7-5). The Huskies came into the game having won five of their last six, including an emotional upset over rival Syracuse on Wednesday.

But Villanova held UConn's guard tandem of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright to just six points. The pair had been averaging just under 33 points a game.

"Those two guards are two of the best in the country," Wright said. "I think doing the job on them was the key."

A pair of Arcidiacono three-pointers sparked an 11-0 run that turned a three-point halftime deficit into a 52-45 Villanova lead and the Wildcats never trailed again.

The freshman guard had five of Villanova's nine three-pointers and the Wildcats hit 9 of 21 from behind the arc. They are now 13-0 when they make six or more three-pointers in a game.

A layup from Yarou gave the Wildcats a 64-57 lead with just over two minutes left and Bell sealed the win with a three-pointer that stretched the lead to 10.

Shabazz Napier picked up two fouls in the game's first four minutes, and the Huskies had a difficult time running their offense without him. Villanova went on an 11-0 run, holding UConn without a field goal for more than seven minutes in the first half, before a fast-break dunk by DeAndre Daniels made it 13-8.

Daniels had six of the Huskies first eight points.

Napier came back in midway through the half, helping the Huskies to a 10-2 run that gave them back the lead at 16-14.

Back-to-back three-pointers from little-used Leon Tolksdorf brought the crowd into the game and stretched the lead to 22-16. Tolksdorf had just 10 points all season coming into the game, six in Big East play.

Arcidiacono kept the Wildcats close. He had 17 first-half points, including the team's final seven of the half. He had five of the team's nine first-half baskets.

"We want him to score," Wright said. "I’m the only coach in the world who gets the kid who is an unbelievable scorer and he wants to be the nicest guy and pass to everybody. We tell him to shoot.  He’s just too nice a kid."

Napier didn't get his first bucket until after halftime, but had nine assists. Boatright's first bucket didn't come until the game's final minute.

Villanova outrebounded UConn 41-25, including 20-5 on the offensive glass. The Wildcats came in leading the Big East in rebounding, pulling down an average of 39 per game. UConn, which lost 7-foot-1 center Enosch Wolf to an indefinite suspension following a domestic-violence arrest, has nobody on the roster taller than 6-9.

Villanova has been an enigma this season, beating Syracuse and Louisville in the same week, but losing to Providence twice and suffering an 18-point loss to Columbia. They were coming off an 18-point loss to Cincinnati, after wins over DePaul and South Florida, two teams at the bottom of the conference standings.

"You have to win on the road against good teams.  You can talk about it all you want…You have to go do it," Wright said. 

UConn had won the last four meetings between the schools before losing what could be the two teams' final matchup as members of the same conference.

"I don’t know if it’s the last time around for the Big East or not, but it’s been great coming up here.  This is special basketball country up here," Wright said.

The Huskies fall to 12-2 when leading at the half this season.

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