Villanova Big East Basketball: Finally the Young Wildcats Roar

Ron PasceriCorrespondent IIJanuary 18, 2012

Wright is turning his team around.
Wright is turning his team around.Chris Chambers/Getty Images

After two full months of struggles on offense and defense against legitimate competition, Villanova may have finally put a stamp on their season. Seton Hall entered the game 15-3 and 4-2 in the Big East, but the Wildcats pillaged the Pirates 84-76.

Villanova used a recipe they have struggled to master this year. They played aggressively on offense, getting to the free-throw line 41 times while attempting just 18 three-pointers. The Wildcats knocked down 34 of those free-throw attempts and six threes. That is the way their offense needs to look.

Their leader, point guard Maalik Wayns, poured in 25 points, making 15-of-16 shots from the foul line. He also dished out seven assists and grabbed five rebounds. Wayns basically did exactly what he has been doing all year. The real difference was in his supporting cast.

Sophomore James Bell chipped in 18 points and six rebounds, shooting 4-of-8 from three-point range. As well as Bell played, his contribution still wasn't the big story.

JayVaughn Pinkston, one of five Villanova freshman, had been coming on strong in recent games, but no one could have predicted that he'd have the performance he did against Seton Hall. Going against Herb Pope, one of the nation's best big men, Pinkston had a true breakout performance.

Pinkston bullied his way to the rim on offense, scoring a career-high 23 points. He also played tough defense and pounded the boards for 11 rebounds. Pope had just 10 points and eight rebounds.

Defensively, Villanova held Seton Hall to just 37 percent shooting and only sent them to the line 16 times.

The Wildcats are still just 9-10 and 2-5 in the Big East, but if they can get that type of scoring help for Wayns, they can turn their season around in a hurry. It could very well be too late to make an NCAA Tournament run, but if nothing else they can make noise in the conference tournament and possibly a run in the NIT.