ROSEMONT, Ill. — The Villanova Wildcats were picky, patient and willing to share Wednesday.
Five players hit double figures as the No. 6 Wildcats ran their winning streak to six with an 87-62 Big East victory over the DePaul Blue Demons at Allstate Arena.
“I think it came from making extra passes,” said Villanova coach Jay Wright. “We passed up good shots and got great shots and that’s something the good teams do. We’re getting better at it and we did it really well tonight.”
Guard Darrun Hilliard led a balanced attack with a season-high 22 points as the Big East leaders (22-2, 10-1) won their 11th in 12 games, a span marred only by a Jan. 20 loss to Creighton.
Guard James Bell scored 16 points, guard Ryan Arcidiacono and forward JayVaughn Pinkston each had 14 while forward Kris Jenkins added 11 for the Wildcats.
Pinkston also collected 11 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
Guard Brandon Young scored a season- and game-high 27 points while center Sandi Marcius added 10 as DePaul (10-15, 2-10) dropped its season-high seventh straight and fell into a last place tie with Butler.
“It was tough, we just weren’t focused for 40 minutes out there,” Young said. “We didn’t give enough effort on defense. We can’t just keep playing offense and not playing defense. That hurts us in the long run.”
Villanova led 48-31 at halftime, pushed the lead to 27 points at 61-34 on Hilliard’s 3-pointer with 16:11 left in the second half and never saw the advantage slip under 21 points.
“We were clearly outclassed in that game,” said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. “I didn’t think we played particularly well tonight and Villanova had everything to do with that. They’re playing at a high level, they shot the ball extremely well and they shared the ball.”
The Wildcats were successful both inside and beyond the arc, with 22 points in the paint and 15 of 26 for 45 points from beyond the 3-point line. Hilliard led with five 3-pointers.
Villanova was 13-of-19 (68.4 percent) from the field in the second half, 27-of-49 (55.1 percent) for the game and also hit 18 of 20 free throws.
After a hot start DePaul’s shooting slipped and the Blue Demons ended 20-of-54 (37 percent) from the field.
Villanova led 18-17 five minutes into the game, then sprinted to a 19-5 run over a span of 8:45 minutes to open their biggest lead to that point at 37-22. The surge included 11 unanswered points, finally broken by Young’s layup with 4:37 left in the half.
The Blue Demons never got closer than 10 points the rest of the half while the Wildcats pushed the lead to 19 at 46-27 on Pinkston’s dunk with 1:14 left before the break.
Villanova went 8 of 16 on 3-pointers and hit 12-of-13 free throws as it opened a 48-31 halftime lead behind 11 points from Hilliard and 10 from Pinkston. Young paced DePaul with a game-high 16 first half points.
Big leads helped Villanova dictate the pace and allowed for patient shot selection.
“When a team gets down and they have to press you a little bit, it makes it easier to open the floor like that and make extra passes,” Wright said.
Villanova made a quick exit, bound for nearby O’Hare International Airport to try to beat a heavy snowstorm heading for Philadelphia and the East Coast.
NOTES: Wednesday’s game was DePaul’s first without leading scorer Cleveland Melvin, who left the program and school earlier this week. University officials gave no reason and Melvin had not played in the last four games, serving a suspension for unspecified rules violations. … Villanova was the Blue Demon’s second straight game against a ranked foe. DePaul dropped a 78-66 decision last Friday at No. 12 Creighton. … G Brandon Young had no assists on Wednesday and still needs one to become the fourth in school history with at least 500. … In Villanova’s last seven games, G/F James Bell has averaged 21.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game to land Big East Player of the Week honors. … The Wildcats now holds an 18-8 all-time lead over DePaul and has won the last eight games. … DePaul is at Providence on Saturday
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