Villanova's Daniel Ochefu, left, goes up for a dunk against St. John's Ron Mvouika during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum
February 13, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Villanova's lone big man had his best game while the shooters around him struggled.

Daniel Ochefu scored a career-high 25 points, Ryan Arcidiacono added 13 and No. 1 Villanova beat St. John's 73-63 Saturday night.

Amar Alibegovic led the Red Storm with a career-best 18 points. St. John's has lost 16 in a row, the longest streak in Division I.

For a half, Villanova (22-3, 12-1 Big East) hardly looked like the nation's top team. The Wildcats, who were 27-point favorites, only led 28-27 at halftime.

Whatever coach Jay Wright said to his team during the break, it worked.

''That was not one of our best performances,'' Wright said. ''You have to give St. John's credit for that. We were fortunate to go inside to Daniel.''

Ochefu, playing his second game after missing three with a concussion, dominated inside. He was 11 for 14 from the field and grabbed nine rebounds.

''My teammates have been doing a great job finding me for easy shots,'' said the 6-foot-11 Ochefu.

Villanova came out firing in the second half, going 9 for 11 while building a double-digit lead. Arcidiacono's 3-pointer capped a 10-3 run and gave the Wildcats their biggest lead to that point, 51-40.

They led by a comfortable margin the rest of the way.

''We tried to get them out of rhythm, but they're a veteran, well-coached team,'' St. John's coach Chris Mullin said. ''When you play the No. 1 team, you have to be perfect.''

St. John's cut it to 57-47 on an alley-oop slam by Kassoum Yakwe off a pass by Felix Balamou. The Red Storm (7-19, 0-13) twice had an opportunity to get closer but committed a turnover and missed a jumper.

After a pair of offensive rebounds at the opposite end, Arcidiacono hit a 3 to increase the lead to 60-47.

''They might have played as well as any game I've seen them in a while,'' Wright said. ''It's a credit to Chris and his staff. They play hard for him to the last second. It's very impressive.''

Malik Ellison's 3-pointer got the Red Storm to 66-58 with 2:55 left, but Josh Hart made a pair of free throws and Ochefu powered in for a layup to extend the margin to 70-58.

Durand Johnson and Federico Mussini, who lead the Red Storm in scoring with an average of 11.9 points per game, combined for 12.

Playing their first home game - off campus at the home of the NBA's 76ers and NHL's Flyers - since jumping to the top of The Associated Press poll for the first time in school history, the Wildcats took a while to get going.

Villanova was 0 for 11 from 3-point range in the first half before Arcidiacono hit one early in the second. The Wildcats even trailed 9-8 after Ron Mvouika's 3-pointer 7:30 into the game.

''St. John's came out and executed their game plan and we didn't,'' Arcidiacono said. ''I don't think there was added pressure being No. 1 at home.''

LIVE BY THE 3

The Red Storm took almost half their shots from 3-point range, going 10 for 25 from beyond the arc. They were 14 of 29 on their other shots. ''We love the 3-ball,'' Mullin said. ''But, it's important to balance that out, post up and drive the ball.''

LIFE AT THE TOP

The Wildcats know teams will be trying harder to knock them off their No. 1 pedestal. ''We always prepare to get our opponents' best game and tonight was a good example,'' Wright said.

TIP-INS

St. John's: Shot 4 for 14 on 3-pointers in the first half. ... Has lost nine straight to Villanova. ... Mullin, a Hall of Fame NBA player, was 6-5 vs. Villanova when he played at St. John's. He's 0-2 against them in his first season as coach.

Villanova: Hart and Arcidiacono, the team's two leading scorers, each had two points in the first half on free throws. Hart finished with seven on 1-for-6 shooting. ... Villanova is 45-34 at the Wells Fargo Center.

UP NEXT

St. John's hosts DePaul on Wednesday night.

Villanova visits Temple on Wednesday night.

---

Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP-RobMaaddi

You May Like

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)