Yarou leads Villanova past Vanderbilt, 62-52
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — With Mouphtaou Yarou and JayVaughn Pinkston playing different roles Saturday from what Villanova fans are accustomed to seeing, the Wildcats came into the distinctive confines of Memorial Gym and broke their three-game losing streak.
The 6-foot-10 Yarou scored 16 points and the 6-6 Pinkston added 13 in the Wildcats’ 62-52 victory over Vanderbilt in the Big East/SEC Challenge. But what was unusual was that two of Yarou’s three baskets came from 18 feet out and all six of Pinkston’s were inside, including three putbacks.
“JP is a good player inside,” Yarou said. “We’re just trying to let him play inside and let me play outside. We play off each other.”
Coach Jay Wright brought Pinkston off the bench for the second straight game and the sophomore provided a spark right away with a tip-in. He stayed aggressive on the offensive end and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
“It’s just basically whatever the team needs me to do, I’ll do,” Pinkston said of his sixth-man status. “Coach told me to go out there and just play my game so that’s what I’m trying to do, either starting or coming off the bench.”
Of Pinkston’s play off the bench, Wright said, “I like it. I like it a lot.
“It gives him a little change to see what’s going on defensively,” he said. “I think he goes into the game when the other team’s forwards that are guarding him are a little tired and he’s fresh and aggressive. He really comes in aggressive.”
On the raised court with benches on the end line, the Wildcats (4-3) played well defensively against a team that has no seniors, five sophomores and a freshman in its rotation. They did not allow the Commodores (2-4) a single offensive rebound in the second half and limited them to 4-of-14 three-point shooting in the period.
Villanova held a shaky 46-44 lead with 7 minutes, 18 seconds to play but held Vanderbilt to one basket over the next six and a half minutes. The Wildcats’ last field goal came at the 6:37 mark but they made 12 free throws after that, including eight in a row from Yarou and Ryan Arcidiacono.
Two of Yarou’s free throws came after he drove and drew a foul at the end of the shot clock.
“We’re moving him away from the basket,” Wright said. “We try to take advantage of his size. But he’s actually much more comfortable facing the basket, much like a European player.”
Contact Joe Juliano at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @joejulesinq.