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Villanova Basketball: Wildcats Top Rutgers 70-49 in Big East Tourney

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 06:  Maalik Wayns #2 of the Villanova Wildcats lays the ball up past Jerome Seagears #1 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their first round game of the 2012 BIG EAST Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 6, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Ron PasceriCorrespondent IIMarch 7, 2012

Going into tonight's game, most Villanova fans couldn't have felt too confident.  Not only have the Wildcats won just five Big East games and only three of their last 11.  A win tonight would have also meant beating a team twice.

Luckily, that team was Rutgers and, luckily, Villanova was able to impose their will for the first time in months.  After trailing 34-30 at the break, Jay Wright's Wildcats put together their most successful half of basketball this season.

In the second half, Villanova absolutely locked all windows and doors on the Scarlet Knights, holding them to just 15 points for the half.  

On the other end of the floor, they played flawless team basketball, being unselfish and under control with the ball for 20 minutes and scoring an incredible 40 points.

Offensively, the 'Cats shot 45 percent from the field and got to the free-throw line 30 times, hitting 73 percent.  They were aggressive and didn't settle for rushed jumpers.

As a team, this was the most active Villanova has been on defense and the glass all year.  They grabbed 12 offensive rebounds on 26 missed shots and 27 defensive rebounds on Rutgers' 39 misses.  They had nine steals and four blocked shots as well.

Guard Maalik Wayns was dominant, going for 28 points with six rebounds and four assists.  He was highly efficient, shooting 50 percent from the field and hitting 13-of-14 from the line.

As great as Wayns was, the real story was Mouphtaou Yarou.  The junior center has had all kinds of trouble over the last month, but he played easily his best game of the season.  He scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

On top of his scoring and rebounding, his defense was incredible.  He was incredibly active and managed to be in the right places all night.  He blocked two shots and had two steals.

On a night were nobody else scored much for Villanova, Maurice Sutton continued his great run.  His numbers didn't quantify his importance, but his energy, activity, his toughness inside and his passing were all on full display and as important as any basket that was scored.

After such a wonderful performance, they get their third crack at a mystery of a South Florida team on Wednesday night at 9 p.m.

No one seems to believe in the Bulls, who finished sixth in the Big East standings with a 12-6 conference record.  Despite that, they have dominated Villanova this season.

In two games, South Florida has outscored them by 15.5 points per game and Villanova has averaged 54.0 points per game.  They also shot an atrocious 33.9 percent from the field in those games.

Granted, in the second game Wayns was out with injury, but Jay Wright hasn't been able to solve the South Florida defense.

If they play like they played against Rutgers they will have a much better performance on Wednesday.  They may not score 70 points, but they probably won't need to against the Bulls.  

This game is likely to be a "first-team-to-60-wins" type of game and Villanova, for once, looks like they may be ready to do just that.

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