GAME NOTES: The Villanova Wildcats aim for the fourth win in a row as they visit the Prudential Center for a Big East Conference bout with the Seton Hall Pirates.
This game marks the 102nd meeting in history between these two schools on the hardwood. Villanova is 64-37 versus Seton Hall after defeating the Pirates in each of the last 10 encounters.
Jay Wright's Wildcats are coming off a 60-56 upset victory over Marquette on Saturday, a win that improved them to 18-10 overall and 9-6 in Big East play. Villanova is one of the teams sitting on the NCAA Tournament bubble, which leaves little room for error the rest of the way. The Wildcats are led by the duo of JayVaughn Pinkston and Ryan Arcidiacono, who post 12.6 and 11.7 points per game, respectively. Both had 11 points in Saturday's win versus the Golden Eagles.
Darrun Hilliard poured in 22 points against Marquette, as Villanova shot 42.2 percent from the field and converted 18-of-25 attempts at the free-throw line. The Wildcats allowed Marquette to shoot 44.9 percent from the field, but they held them to just 3-of-12 efficiency from beyond the arc. The Wildcats won for only the fourth time in 14 games this season when making fewer than six 3- pointers, going 4-of-13 from beyond the arc. In conference games only, Villanova is seventh among Big East programs in both scoring offense (66.8) and scoring defense (63.5).
Seton Hall jumped out to a 12-2 start to the season, but its Big East foes have ruined the Pirates' once impressive run. They have won only two of their first 15 Big East matchups. Currently, the team is riding a nine-game losing streak, and it only has won win in its last 14 tilts. Coach Kevin Willard's squad suffered a 79-61 setback at Louisville on Saturday.
Although the Pirates have struggled, Fuquan Edwin has managed to produce a stellar junior campaign with averages of 16.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 steals per tilt. Aaron Cosby and Eugene Teague are also owners of double-digit scoring averages, but the next most productive active Pirate is Brian Oliver, who nets just 7.5 ppg. Edwin has become the focal point of the opposition's defensive gameplan on a regular basis, and that was certainly the case versus Louisville, as the Cardinals held him to 11 points with five turnovers. Cosby scored 17 points and Teague chimed in with 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists in the losing effort.
Seton Hall ranks 14th in the Big East in scoring at 59.7 ppg, and it sits in the same position defensively with an average yield of 69.6 ppg.
The Pirates would love to hand the Wildcats a loss and hurt their tournament hopes, but Arcidiacono's steady progression into a smart and explosive point guard will make Villanova a tough out. Seton Hall has what it takes to compete with Villanova, but it will likely have trouble finishing the job.
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