GAME NOTES: Prior to embarking on a three-game road trip, the sixth-ranked Villanova Wildcats entertain the Seton Hall Pirates in a Big East Conference duel at The Pavilion on Friday night.
Seton Hall claimed one of its most impressive victories of the season last time out, topping Xavier on the road, 68-60. The win was the second in the last three games for the Pirates, who are 13-9 overall, but just 4-5 in league play. They will start a three-game homestand against Marquette next.
Villanova is also coming off of a victory over the Musketeers, as it claimed an 81-58 triumph against Xavier on Monday. The Wildcats have won four straight since a 96-68 embarrassment suffered against Creighton on Jan. 20. They will visit DePaul to kick off a string of road games in their next bout.
The Wildcats had the upper hand in the first meeting between these two squads this season, earning an 83-67 road victory. The Wildcats have won 11 of the last 12 matchups and lead the all-time series, 65-38.
Fuquan Edwin dropped in 18 points and the Pirates outscored Xavier 24-6 from 3-point range to collect a win last Saturday. Seton Hall knocked down 44.7 percent of its total shots, while logging a 21-7 edge in points off of turnovers.
Although they do no have one of the more impressive records in the Big East, the Pirates have been one of the more effective offensive squads in the league. They rank third in scoring (75.5 ppg), while shooting a shade below 45 percent from the floor. However, they are last in the league on the glass (32.5 rpg). Edwin (13.4 ppg) is one of four players on the roster scoring in double figures. The leader is Sterling Gibbs (14.8 ppg, 4.4 apg), who had 10 points against Xavier and is also third in the league in assists. Brian Oliver (12.5 ppg) and Eugene Teague (10.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg) are also important pieces to the puzzle for Seton Hall.
James Bell drained six 3-pointers and finished with 27 points to lead Villanova past Xavier on Monday night. The Wildcats limited the Musketeers to 37.7 percent shooting, while forcing more than twice as many turnovers (16) as they committed (seven).
Villanova is an even more potent offensive unit as compared to Seton Hall. The Wildcats are second in the conference in both scoring (80.9 ppg) and assists (16.4 apg), while shooting 46.2 percent from the floor. They are also the second-best rebounding team (38.2 rpg) in the Big East. Bell (15.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) heads up the scoring out of the backcourt, while proving to be an adept performer on the glass as well. JayVaughn Pinkston (14.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg) is the anchor in the low post, although he has range on his jumper. Darrun Hilliard (13.7 ppg) and Ryan Arcidiacono (9.7 ppg, 3.5 apg) are solid performers in the backcourt, although the latter can be a bit erratic as a shooter.
When these teams met up earlier in the season Villanova had no trouble putting up points. Now that the Wildcats are the home team, the result should be the same.
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