ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) — Darrun Hilliard scored 22 points, JayVaughn Pinkston had 14 points and 11 rebounds and No. 6 Villanova beat DePaul 87-62 on Wednesday night for its sixth straight win.
The Wildcats made a season-high 15 3-pointers and had five players score in double figures in an efficient tuneup for Sunday’s Big East showdown with Creighton. James Bell had 16 points and Ryan Arcidiacono finished with 14, including four 3s.
Villanova (22-2, 10-1) opened a three-game trip with its eighth consecutive victory against DePaul. The Wildcats, who lost 96-68 to Creighton on Jan. 20, lead the Big East by one game over the idle Bluejays.
Brandon Young had a season-high 27 points for DePaul (10-15, 2-10), which has lost seven in a row. Sandi Marcius added 10 points and seven rebounds.
Villanova led 48-31 at halftime and it away with a 13-3 run to begin the second half. Daniel Ochefu found Bell for a strong alley-oop dunk and Hilliard made a 3-pointer to make it 61-34 with 16:14 to go, leading to a timeout for DePaul.
The Wildcats shot 55 percent from the field, making 15 of 26 3-point attempts. Hilliard was 5 for 7 from long range and Arcidiacono made each of his four 3-point attempts.
It was DePaul’s first game since the school announced Monday that senior Cleveland Melvin was no longer enrolled at the university. Melvin, who ranks among DePaul’s career leaders in several categories, including scoring and rebounding, was suspended last month for violating team rules.
The Blue Demons are winless in five games since Melvin had 25 points in an 84-74 loss to Xavier on Jan. 20 in his final game with DePaul. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 16.7 points and 6.4 rebounds in 20 games this season.
Villanova began to pull away midway through the first half, scoring 11 straight points to open a 37-22 lead with 5:27 to go. Bell started the run with a 3-pointer and Dylan Ennis closed it out with another 3.
It was more of the same for the rest of the half. Tony Chennault had a steal that led to a nice fast-break pass by Hilliard to Pinkston, who ran down the middle of the lane for a soaring dunk that made it 46-27 with 1:14 left.
Pinkston was 5 for 7 from the field and 4 for 4 at the line in his second double-double of the season. He had 15 points and 10 rebounds in a 74-67 win at St. John’s on Jan. 11.
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