Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 2/4/14
VILLANOVA'S basketball team won 20 games last season, after losing 19 the year before that. Last night at the Pavilion, the team that just moved up three spots in the rankings to sixth improved to 20-2 by beating Xavier, 81-58. The Wildcats still have nine more games left before the Big East Tournament. Since losing by 28 to No. 12 Creighton in South Philly 2 weeks ago, they've won four straight. Three were on the road, all at places where they've had problems getting it done. On Friday, they'll host Seton Hall (13-9, 4-5 Big East), where they won by 16 in early January. The 2005-06 Wildcats won 20 of their first 22 and ended up in the Final Eight. The 2009-10 edition also started 20-2 and earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament before losing in the second round. Draw whatever conclusions you feel are relevant. This one was 28-22 after 20 minutes. On Saturday at Temple, they turned a five-point halftime lead into a 16-point win, as James Bell and Darrun Hilliard scored their first 16 after intermission. This time, they combined for 17 straight after JayVaughn Pinkston began the second half with a layup. The pair had 36 of Villanova's 53 after the break, which was 28 more than they had before that. "Juniors [Hilliard] and seniors [Bell], man" said coach Jay Wright, whose team is tied with Creighton for first at 8-1 in the conference. "It's just so nice to have them in college basketball. They're really mature. They've seen it all. They've been through ups and downs. So nothing bothers them. They know what we need, and they come out and do it. Very simple." Bell finished with 27, 12 more than his team-best average. He shot 10-for-14, 6-for-10 from the arc. He also had eight rebounds, which matched Pinkston for team high, to go with three assists and a block. Hilliard scored 17, in a team-high 32 minutes, going 7-for-14 (2-for-5). He too had three assists, a swat and a steal. OK, and one of Villanova's seven turnovers. Sue him. "[Bell's] a special leader," said Wright, who emphatically had more words than usual for him when he finally took him out near the end. "I was telling him, 'This is your team. Look what they're doing.' I keep pushing him. I want to love him up, he's such a good kid. [But] it's not time [yet]." It was a four-point game with 16 minutes to go. Four minutes later, the margin was 15. The Wildcats shot 60 percent in the second half, 46 from three. It was more than enough to make you forget they missed half their free throws. The Creighton game might have had an impact on a lot of teams. Not this one. "It's a testament of what we've been through," Hilliard said. "A 13-19 season. Last year, not much was expected of us. We always keep coming. We're not going to stop. It's what we do, every day. Nothing special. Just work to get better." Xavier (15-7, 5-4), which dropped its third straight, did not have the luxury of a shootaround because of the weather. One of the league's three newcomers, the Musketeers were playing their first game on the Main Line since the 1994 NIT. And it was the teams' first meeting since a 2006 tournament in the Virgin Islands.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

NFL denies sending Donald Trump letter about schedule

Michael Bennett calls out NFL stars for not speaking up on social matters

Nationals make astute move in acquiring Melancon

Son of former NFL player Antonio Armstrong charged with death of parents

U.S. Senator “appalled” by Bettman’s stance on concussions

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Team USA’s Opening Ceremony uniforms look a little treasonous

Lawyer who reps concussion lawsuit wants to speak with Bettman

Tyler Eifert says he will never play in the Pro Bowl again

Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio

Wade says Riley did not push him out of Miami

Texans GM 'disappointed' in DeAndre Hopkins

Can Andre Johnson end his regression in Tennessee?

Favre opens up about painkiller addiction during career

Miami women’s basketball coach criticizes Texas A&M following slideshow

Twin Cities preparing for influx of sex trafficking during Super Bowl LII

WATCH: Bautista bat flip will be available as NHL 17 celebration

Former USMNT, current MLS forward Davies battled cancer, in remission

The definitive guide to U.S. Men's Basketball at Rio 2016

Tony Romo training camp picture leads to fat jokes, concern

Matt Cullen’s family eats cereal out of the Stanley Cup

Texas A&M suspends coaches for sexist slideshow

10 most dangerous college football defenders in 2016

Wildcats News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker