No. 6 Villanova beats Butler 67-55 to go 13-0
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) There have been Final Four teams and a national championship team and multiple Big East title winners for Villanova since its first recognized game in 1920.
Only one other edition has ever been perfect through 13 games.
Up next for coach Jay Wright's crew, a chance to be alone in the record book.
Ryan Arcidiacono scored 15 points and JayVaughn Pinkston had 13 to help No. 6 Villanova beat Butler 67-55 on Wednesday and match the best start in program history.
The Wildcats are 13-0 (1-0 Big East) for the first time since the 1937-38 season. That team lost its 14th game against Westminster College. Villanova can set a school record with a 14-0 start when it plays Saturday at Seton Hall.
''Anything we do to match bests in this program means the world to me,'' Wright said. ''Us compared to other programs, I'm not as interested in. To match that, means a lot to us.''
Daniel Ochefu had 10 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots for Villanova, and Kris Jenkins scored 11.
The Big East-favorite Wildcats opened an 11-point lead in the first half and then built a second double-digit lead after the Bulldogs pulled within four at halftime. Butler never managed to rally again after missing 12 of its first 14 shots in the second half.
Villanova leading scorer Darrun Hilliard returned to the lineup after sitting out one game with a concussion. He scored eight points on 2-of-5 shooting.
Pinkston scored off the opening tip, Ochefu scored off a turnover and the Wildcats were up 8-2 in minutes. Arcidiacono hit a pair of 3-pointers early in the game to stretch the lead for the Wildcats and show he might be moving out of his early-season slump.
Arcidiacono, a 6-foot-3 junior point guard, had a knack for hitting big shots late in games for the Wildcats during his first two seasons and he took control as one of their go-to players in crunch time.
But he was in a major funk for most of this season, including a 9-for-33 stretch over five games when he cracked double-digit scoring just once. Wright pinned some of the blame on Arcidiacono's academic pressures and a sore wrist, and never lost faith in the guard.
''I'm doing the same routine I've done for the past 2 1/2 years here. It's not doing anything different,'' Arcidiacono said. ''I'm just maybe finding a rhythm right now.''
Arcidiacono responded the last two games with nine assists and no turnovers against Syracuse and a 16-point game on 6-of-12 shooting against NJIT.
''We were winning, so I really didn't care,'' he said. ''If I was scoring, that was just another positive. I was trying to find everyone.''
Arcidiacono did just that when he assisted on Jenkins' 3-pointer midway through the second half that made it 48-38, and the Wildcats pulled away from there. Ochefu hit back-to-back jumpers and Pinkston followed with a three-point play that made it 59-43.
Alex Barlow and Andrew Chrabascz both scored 12 points for Butler (10-4, 0-1).
The Bulldogs briefly cracked the AP Top 25 after a win against North Carolina before two straight losses helped knock them out of the poll. They shot only 36 percent in the second half (8 of 22) and failed to take advantage of a 17-3 edge on the offensive glass.
Butler's leading scorers were non-factors, with Kellen Dunham (16.6) scoring 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting and Roosevelt Jones (11.2) scoring eight on 4-of-15 shooting.
''Kellen's got to get cleaner looks for us,'' Butler interim coach Chris Holtmann said. ''I never felt like we were as good as we needed to be in the halfcourt. I thought it was too easy for them.''
Butler: The Bulldogs made their first shot of the game, then missed the next nine. ... Butler outrebounded Villanova 40-29.
Villanova: The Wildcats are 9-5 in Big East openers under Wright. ... Villanova made 16 of 26 free throws. ... Wright won his 299th game with the Wildcats. ... The Wildcats owned a 16-6 edge in points off turnovers and a 28-20 advantage on points in the paint
The Wildcats have won 21 straight games at the Pavilion. They were 12-0 at their on-campus home last season and are 2-0 this season at the Wells Fargo Center, home of the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers. The Wildcats also have sold out every Pavilion home game dating to the 2000-01 season. ''Everybody else today is probably talking bowl games,'' Wright said. ''Everybody around here, for the last week, has been fired up for this game.''
Butler plays Saturday at No. 15 St. John's.
Villanova plays Saturday at Seton Hall.