NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Jay Wright isn’t taking points away from No. 8 Villanova for unimpressive wins.
A ‘W’ is a ‘W,’ and that’s all Wright wanted for the Wildcats (14-1, 3-0 Big East) in a game against undermanned Seton Hall.
Darrun Hilliard scored 19 points and Villanova hit a dozen 3-pointers in an 83-67 decision against a team that used seven players.
“Not a pretty game but give Seton Hall credit for that,” Wright said. “They were down men and came out and scrapped and gave us a lot of trouble. Sometimes you just have to battle and find a way to win and that’s what we did.”
The Pirates (10-6, 1-2) played without swingman Fuquan Edwin, their second leading scorer, and Eugene Teague, their top rebounder. Edwin, who beat Villanova last season with a 3-pointer at the buzzer, has a knee injury. Teague missed his third straight game with a concussion.
JayVaughn Pinkston added 17 points, Ryan Arcidiacono had 14 and the Wildcats shot 52 percent from the field and 3-point range in beating Seton Hall for the 11th time in the last 12 games.
Villanova has shot at least 50 percent from the field in its last three games, and four of five.
“We are doing a good job offensively,” Wright said. “A good job of sharing he ball. We turn it over a little too much which helps your shooting percentage. We do share the ball and I think we’re doing a good job of finding good shots.”
One of the highlights for the Wildcats was seeing Pinkston score the 1,000th point of his career. He now has 1,003.
“It’s a great accomplishment to be one of only 50 players to ever do it here,” said Pinkston, who was 5 of 10 from the field and perfect in seven free throw attempts.
Brian Oliver had 20 points to lead Seton Hall, which has lost two straight for the first time this season.
“They are ranked for a reason,” Oliver said. “They have great players. It is tough with seven guys and they are bringing in fresh bodies. It’s tough. They are a good team and they answered our runs. They answered right back whenever we tried to make a run.”
Sterling Gibbs had 13 points, eight assists and six rebounds for Seton Hall. Patrik Auda added 13 points.
After Oliver hit a 3-pointer in the opening seconds to give Seton Hall its only lead, Villanova went on a 14-3 spurt to take an eight-point lead. Arcidiacono started the run with two 3s, Pinkston added a three-point play and Hilliard made a layup after James Bell hit another 3.
Villanova, which made 14 from long range in routing Providence in its last game, hit six of its first eight 3-pointers.
The Wildcats led by 11 points in the first half, but the Pirates shot well from the field and pulled to 38-32 at the half after a layup by Stephane Manga.
Villanova didn’t pull away until the midway point of the second half when Josh Hart scored seven straight points in a run that stretched the lead to double digits.
Seton Hall never cut the lead below 10 points and the final margin was the Wildcats’ biggest.
“If you’re going to be a good team you have to find a way to win,” Wright said. “They were undermanned and you lose a game that way. We weren’t pretty but that’s not what we’re trying to do.”
Pirates coach Kevin Willard hopes that Edwin will be back this weekend against Marquette. He added that Teague has ridden the bike the past two days without any problem and that he got a good report from the neurologist.
“They’re tough. They’re unselfish. They play really good defense,” Willard said of Villanova. “We cut it to five and we cut it to seven and they came down and hit some tough threes. That’s what they have done all year. They’ve made tough plays.”