Villanova starts play in 76 Classic

Villanova begins play in the 76 Classic Thursday when it takes on UC-Riverside in a first-round game at the Anaheim (Calif.) Convention Center.

The Wildcats (3-0) will be playing their first game away from the Pavilion this season. They are coming off a 79-69 win over Delaware last Friday.

Villanova will play three games in four days in the eight-team event. They take on either Saint Louis or Boston College on Friday and, after an off-day Saturday, finish up with a game on Sunday. Other teams in the field are New Mexico, Oklahoma, Washington State and Santa Clara.

The Wildcats are being led by three juniors – Dominic Cheek, Maalik Wayns and Mouphtaou Yarou.

Cheek is averaging 22.0 points in the first three games, ranking him second among Big East players behind only Jeremy Lamb of Connecticut. Last season, the 6-foot-6 guard averaged 5.6 points.

Wayns is next on the team, and seventh in the Big East, at 19.3, and leads the conference with a 95.0 percent mark (19 of 20) on free throws. Yarou is hitting at a 17.7-point clip and his 9.7 rebounds ranks fourth in the league.

UC-Riverside, of the Big West, is 1-2. The Highlanders have never played against the Wildcats.

The game will be televised on ESPN2.

--Joe Juliano