Villanova beats St. John's, 66-53, in Big East tournament

Villanova's JayVaughn Pinkston (22) drives past St. John's Jamal Branch (0) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big East Conference tournament, Wednesday, March 13, 2013, in New York. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

Mouphtaou Yarou led the way with 18 points on 9-for-10 shooting as Villanova beat St. John's, 66-53, in the second round of the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden.

The win should assure the Wildcats of a return to the NCAA Tournament after missing out last season.

JayVaughn Pinkston and freshman Ryan Arcidiacono also scored in double figures, recording 12 and 15 points respectively.

Here are game recaps from Joe Juliano and Mike Kern, and columns from Bob Ford and Marcus Hayes.

Villanova will face Louisville in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Joe Juliano previews the game on Super 'Nova.

You can read the transcript of my live chat and watch video highlights from the game below.

Matchup: No. 7 Villanova vs. No. 10 St. John's, Big East Tournament Second Round
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT
Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.
TV/Radio: ESPN2 (Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas and Bill Raftery)/WIP 610-AM (Ryan Fannon and Whitey Rigsby)

In the Big East tournament preview video I did with Mike Kern and Joe Juliano earlier this week, I set up the stakes in this game as something of a trick question.

Is tonight a must-win for Villanova, or a can't-lose?

There are plenty of people out there who think the No. 7-seed Wildcats are already in the NCAA Tournament. That may be the case heading into Madison Square Garden, but a loss to No. 10 St. John's could change perceptions.

With a win tonight, Villanova will put any lingering worries at ease.

And I can't help thinking they'd do more than just put a capstone on an impressive season of growth.

It seems like a long time ago that Jay Wright ran off a six-year streak of NCAA Tournament appearances. It wasn't. That streak ran from 2005 through 2011. Villanova has only missed one Big Dance, hard as it may be for Wright's haters (and haters-in-waiting) to believe.

From where I sit, a win tonight would prove that last year's absence from the NCAA Tournament was a fluke.

I'll be chatting live throughout the evening. Come on by and share your thoughts as the wildest week of the college basketball season officially hits high gear.

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