*LIVE coverage: Villanova downs Boston University, 68-43

Posted on December 14, 2011

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Villanova players scramble for a loose ball during Tuesday's win over Boston U. (Credit Aaron Bracy)

By AARON BRACY

Philahoops Editor

Twitter: @Aaron_Bracy

Facebook: Facebook.com/Philahoops

VILLANOVA 68, BOSTON UNIVERSITY 43

-Recap: Villanova overcame an awful first half when they shot 19 percent from the field and trailed by three points to defeat Boston University at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night.

Dominic Cheek, in his first game off the bench this season, led the Wildcats with 14 points. Mouphtaou Yarou had his fifth double-double of the season, with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Maalik Wayns also reached double-figures with 10 points, but was 3-for-14 from the field.

The Wildcats, who have been struggling defensively, held the Terriers to 30.4 percent shooting from the field, including 23.3 percent after halftime.

“We’ll take this,” Cats coach Jay Wright said after Nova improved to 6-4. “I know it’s what we’re supposed to do but we’re pleased with this. …

“This isn’t going to make us world beaters but it’s going to help us grow.”

WRIGHT

-Key stretch: Villanova bounced back from a dreadful opening 20 minutes, including missing its final 16 first-half shots over 8 minutes, 54 seconds, to crush the defending America East champs after the break.

 “Our defense,” Wright said of why Nova was able to outscore American 45-17 in the second half. “We got turnovers, stops, out in transitions, easy baskets. We haven’t been doing that.

“I thought we got some offensive rebounds we haven’t got. A lot of little things we’re getting better at. We have a lot of work to do, a lot.”

-For starters, a change: Wright made three changes in his starting lineup, removing Cheek and freshman Darrun Hilliard – both of whom started all nine games entering – along with James Bell, who had started 8 of 9. In their place, he started three freshmen: JayVaugn Pinkston, Achraf Yacoubou and Ty Johnson. It was the first career starts for Yacoubou and Johnson and the fourth for Pinkston.

“Just shaking things up a little bit,” Wright said. “Not a big deal.”

-Keeping Partin in check: The Wildcats did a solid job on BU’s Darryl Partin, the La Salle transfer who entered fifth in the country in scoring (22.7 ppg).

Partin finished with a season-low six points, shooting 2-for-15 from the field and missing all eight of his 3-point attemps.

“We tried to keep fresh bodies on him,” Wright said. “I thought we did a great job.”

WAYNS

-No panic in Nova: Despite a three-point hole and one of the uglier first halves they’ve likely played under Wright, the Wildcats didn’t panic at the intermission.

“We were totally confident,” Wayns said. “We were missing shots but we try not to worry about missing shots, keep getting stops. Our bench stepped up for us and we did a good job on defense.

“A big part of our program is attitude. You have to keep a great attitude and keep grinding and grinding. They’re a great team. We knew it was going to be a good team that was going to stick around. We just kept grinding and getting stops.”

Said Wright, “I like that we went through that and we came into halftime and nobody was frustrated. We needed a game like this.”

-Feeling positive: Despite having entered losers of four of five, Wright said he likes the arc of these Cats.

“I like the direction this team is going,” he said. “They’re going to be together for a few years. We’re going to try to get good real fast. We’re not going to be patient about it but we’re going to be smart about it.”

Certainly there’s probably some “coach speak” there, but Wright is correct that this young team likely will hit some rough spots early and get better.

The first half was beyond ugly, but the good sign for Nova Nation is the young Cats didn’t put their heads between their tails.  

“We’re a work in progress but I like this group,” he said. “We keep getting better.”

CHEEK

-Cheek-y performance: Cheek, who entered 6 for his last 32 attempts (18.8 percent) from 3-point range, had a better night.

He made his first shot, a trey, off the bench and finished 3-for-7 from the arc and 5-for-10 overall from the field.

Asked about his night, Cheek instead focused on the team as a whole.

“I think the season is going good so far,” he said. “We’re just a young team and we’re learning. We just watch film, break down the little things, keep working hard and keep working on our defense.”

-Rim shots: Former Villanova standout Malik Allen attended the game. … The crowd was announced at 8,313.

-Next: Villanova travels the short distance to Saint Joseph’s for an 8 p.m. clash against the Hawks at Hagan Arena. It’s the first time in the long history of the matchup that the game is being played on Hawk Hill.

**COMING FRIDAY: Barring any technical setbacks, Philahoops will roll out our new website on Friday.

Friday’s coverage will be jam-packed with coverage advancing Saturday’s Holy War showdown between Saint Joseph’s and Villanova, as well as previews of Saturday’s games involving Drexel and Temple.

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