Lindsey Beakes (@LBeakesy)
Villanova remained perfect in 2012, notching an 89-81 victory over Purdue in overtime on Thursday night. The victory advanced the Wildcats to the final game of the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden, where they will meet Alabama on Friday night.
“Our freshman point guard is pretty good,” Jay Wright told ESPN before the start of regulation in the Garden.
He was referring to freshman Ryan Arcidiacono, who had 18 points and is the young star that Villanova is hoping for.
Sophomore Darrun Hilliard, possibly Villanova’s most improved player, was the team’s leading scorer with a career high 22 points. The sophomore started things off with a block for the Wildcats and followed with a drive inside to give Villanova an early 8-6 lead.
The Wildcat team that is recovering from a painful past season showed spurts of great play. Sophomore JayVaughn Pinkston, who had 16 points, started off an 8-0 run with a block at Purdue’s end followed by a basket against three Purdue defenders to give Villanova the 11-6 lead.
The freshman point guard, Arcidiacono, showed his court vision and play-making creativity with a variety of the big men up front, even getting the ball through to freshman Daniel Ochefu. He also showed his ability to pick the right shots in the first half, with a three for Villanova to take a seven-point lead. At times there were mistakes of effort on the freshman guard’s part, mistakes that will lessen with experience.
Speaking of experience, fifth-year senior Maurice Sutton was called for a flagrant one foul early in the first half. Purdue got two shots followed by possession at the point of interruption in backcourt with around seven and a half minutes left in first half.
Pinkston proved he could turn out to be the Villanova X- factor, in moments where he appeared to be in great shape, such as a pulling up to give the Wildcats the 31-25 lead. At the end of the first half Pinkston had nine points, Arcidiacono had 10 and Purdue had points on the board from a total of 10 players. Villanova gave up nine offensive rebounds in the first half, illustrating Purdue’s offensive advantage in the paint.
Senior Mouphtaou Yarou ended Purdue’s 5-0 run with a basket and one early in the second half. Hilliard was able to get the lead back for Villanova by getting inside, getting him 11 on the board.
With five minutes to play in the second half, it was a three-point game. An offensive foul on DJ Byrd put him out of game with 43 seconds to go in regulation. After reviewing the play, the officials called a flagrant one, giving Villanova the ball and two free throws when they needed it most. Hilliard sunk them both to pull the Wildcats to within 75-73. After an inbound foul on Purdue’s Terone Johnson got Arcidiacono to the line and the score even at 75, Purdue had possession. A shot clock violation on the Boilermakers with 7.6 seconds to go in regulation led to a shot by Arcidiacono that was tipped just a little to late by Ochefu. The freshman’s tip was initially ruled good, but the officials waved it off after a video review, sending the game into overtime.
Shortly into the five-minute overtime, Pinkston fouled out. Bell showed himself with two long threes in the first three minutes of overtime play. After being down by eight with a minute and 15 seconds left in the second half, the Wildcats finished the rollercoaster game with 17 straight free throws made and an eight-point win.
Villanova is back on the court tomorrow against Alabama in the championship game. Purdue will take on Oregon State in the consolation.