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Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Villanova 66, St. John's 53

By Kieran Darcy


NEW YORK -- A quick look at Villanova's 66-53 victory Wednesday night over St. John's in the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden:

What it means: Villanova is headed to the Big East quarterfinals -- and the NCAA tournament. St. John's is headed to the NIT at best.

Villanova (20-12) might not have needed this win, but it should seal an at-large bid to the Big Dance. St. John's (16-15), which was an NCAA bubble team until late February, has now lost five games in a row and is 0-4 since the suspension of leading scorer D'Angelo Harrison.

The turning point: You can divide the first half in two. Villanova jumped out to an 18-6 lead on a JayVaughn Pinkston layup with 9:37 remaining. But St. John's outscored the Wildcats 18-6 the rest of the half, capped off by a Christian Jones lay-in with 32 seconds left. The game was tied at 24 at intermission.

The game remained tight early in the second half. St. John's was still within five, 50-45 with just under seven minutes remaining, after five straight points by Phil Greene. But Villanova responded with seven consecutive points to match its largest lead, 57-45, and put the game away from there. The Red Storm played well defensively, but they just couldn't match the Wildcats at the other end.

Star watch: Mouphtaou Yarou had a big game for Villanova with 18 points, shooting 9-for-10 from the field. Freshman point guard Ryan Arcidiacono scored 15 points but committed eight turnovers. Pinkston had 12 points and nine rebounds.

Greene had 16 points to lead St. John's. Jakarr Sampson, named the Big East Rookie of the Year on Tuesday, had 13 points and nine rebounds but shot just 5-for-18 from the field.

Number crunch: St. John's struggled in the shooting department without Harrison, yet again. The Red Storm were 21-for-59 from the field (35.6 percent), 2-for-11 from deep (18.2 percent) and 9-for-14 from the foul line (64.3 percent). They also uncharacteristically committed 17 turnovers.

What's next: Villanova will play No. 2 seed Louisville on Thursday at 7 p.m.

St. John's goes home and waits to see if it gets invited to the NIT, CBI or CIT.