Villanova wary of DePaul in Big East rematch

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Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono (15) controls the ball against DePaul guard Aaron Simpson (15). (Bill Streicher/USA Today)

ROSEMONT, Ill. – The last time Villanova saw DePaul on a basketball court, the Wildcats mostly were watching the Blue Demons in their rear-view mirror. The visitors, who came into the Pavilion at a Big East-best 3-0 in conference, trailed by 21 at the half and by 34 midway through the second half.

That 81-64 victory by Villanova touched off a slide in which the Blue Demons have lost four of six entering Saturday's rematch at Allstate Arena. But Wildcats coach Jay Wright doesn't want his team, ranked No. 7 this week, to remember anything about the ease of their Jan. 10 meeting.

"They [came in] really hot," Wright recalled. "But they kind of looked in that game like we did against Georgetown. They were just out of sync and we were hot. I don't think it was a typical game. We're really not taking much from that game. I think it's going to be a completely different game on Saturday."

The Wildcats (18-2, 5-2) are playing for only the second time since Jan. 17. They rolled to a 71-50 victory over Creighton last Sunday night, getting back to solid defense after Georgetown shredded them on that end of the court in a 78-58 upset on Jan. 19.

DePaul (11-11, 5-4) lost two out of three on its just completed road trip that was extended a couple of days by the crippling New England snowstorm. The Blue Demons lost by 83-72 to Providence in a rare Thursday matinee before heading home for their first home game since Jan. 18.

The game matches the two most prolific three-point attacks in the Big East. The Wildcats drained 13 in their first meeting with DePaul and 12 against Creighton and average 9.6 baskets from deep in conference competition. The Blue Demons average slightly more than eight three-pointers overall.

Both teams have five players who have knocked down 20 or more three-balls. Forrest Robinson, a 6-foot-10 senior center, leads DePaul with 32. Darrun Hilliard's 37 lead the Wildcats.

Wright said the Wildcats also are trying to get JayVaughn Pinkston going. The 6-7 senior forward, averaging just 8.7 points in Big East play, has attempted just five shots per game against conference opposition.

"He's just been such an unselfish player," Wright said. "He's been our best defensive player. He's been screening extremely well and he's guarding all five positions defensively. He's been a great leader. But we would like to get him going. We definitely want to do that."

jjuliano@phillynews.com

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