PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Villanova head coach Jay Wright faced his longtime assistant, Joe Jones, now the head coach at Boston University, and showed him that the teacher still knew a thing or two.
The Wildcats defeated the Terriers 68-43 in what turned out to be a laugher at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Mouphataou Yarou led the way for Villanova with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Dominic Cheek chipped in with 14 points and seven rebounds as the unranked Wildcats (6-4) avoided a third consecutive loss.
Still, it was hardly vintage Villanova for 25 minutes. The Wildcats, who trailed 26-23 at the half, have lost four of six and played this nonconference tilt in front of a sparse, announced crowd of 8,313 at the Wells Fargo Center.
D.J. Irving had 11 points to pace the Terriers (4-7), who made the NCAA Tournament last season under coach Patrick Chambers, another Wright disciple. Chambers left the Terriers in June to take the vacant position at Penn State.
Boston was making its second of three trips to Philadelphia this month. The Terriers, who carry five players from the Philadelphia area, lost to Saint Joseph’s 75-68 on Dec. 7, and will take on La Salle on Dec. 29.
Jones is looking forward to the game. “I think they enjoyed coming back,” he said. “I know (the Philadelphia players) have a lot of pride playing here. I know we want to come back and play a little better against LaSalle. We got one more shot at it. We’d like to get a win down here.”
Despite coming in with a losing record and having lost to two Ivy League schools, Jones, who was an assistant to Wright at Hofstra as well as Villanova, had his Terriers more prepared in the first half.
Boston led by as many as nine points in the first half and seemed to have an answer for Villanova’s every move. The Wildcats did manage to cut the Boston lead to three at halftime despite missing their last 16 shots.
Wright must have given a Knute Rockne-esque speech to his team in the locker room. After a first half in which Villanova looked sluggish, shot 18.2 percent from the field and allowed Boston to stay in the game, the Wildcats came out in the second half firing on all cylinders.
Malik Wayns, Villanova’s leading scorer, got the scoring going early in the half with two baskets including a fast break layup right off the bat. A James Bell 3-pointer put the Wildcats up 33-30 with just under 17 minutes to go and the Wildcats never looked back.
“I thought their intensity level changed the game in the second half,” Jones said. “They extended themselves a little bit and got us out of the flow. After being under (Wright) for so long, I expected what I saw. I thought they would really challenge us like they did. I knew it would be tough to win on their floor.”
The Wildcats, coming off a 78-67 loss on national television to crosstown rival Temple, did a good job defending Darryl Partin, who ranks fifth in the nation in scoring at 22.7 points a game. They held him to just six points on 2-for-15 shooting.
“We just kept fresh bodies on him all night,” Wright said. “I thought Cheek did a great job on him.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)