Pinkston scores 15 in homecoming, leads No. 12 Villanova past No. 14 VCU 77-53 at Barclays



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NEW YORK — Virginia Commonwealth had an up-close look at the in-your-face pressure it used to define its program.

The Rams learned that it's more fun to create havoc than fall victim to that kind of D.

JayVaughn Pinkston scored 15 points and Darrun Hilliard had 14 to lead No. 12 Villanova past No. 14 Virginia Commonwealth 77-53 on Monday night.

The Wildcats (4-0) used a 16-0 run early in the second half to bust this one open and advance to the Legends Classic final at the Barclays Center. They Wildcats needed about 2½ minutes to turn a tight one into a rout.

Melvin Johnson and Briante Weber each scored 13 points for VCU.

The Rams (3-1) missed 15 of 17 3-pointers, had 10 turnovers and shot only 37 percent overall. VCU opened the second half on a 6-0 run to open a short-lived lead until they totally collapsed and were outhustled for the next 17 next minutes against the attacking Wildcats.

"I think we have the team certainly to be competitive in these types of games, but we're not where we need to be yet," VCU coach Shaka Smart said. "If anything, this is an eye opener to remind us of that."

Pinkston, the 6-foot7, 235-pound forward, helped lead the charge for Villanova. Pinkston attended Bishop Loughlin High School and grew up about 15 minutes away from the Barclays Center area. His mother and other family members were in the crowd — but he kept the focus on hoops, not home.

Pinkston was suspended his first season at Villanova, then worked his way into being one of Wright's senior leaders. He had seven rebounds and made six of 11 shots.

"I was just coming in thinking about defense and rebounding," he said.

Coach Jay Wright broke in, "He's officially brainwashed."

They had a good laugh after turning this one into a surprising laugher. Kris Jenkins added 13 points to lead a Villanova bench that outscored VCU's reserves 36-11.

The Wildcats had 20 assists on 29 baskets and carved up VCU's pressured defense.

"What we take from the game is we've got to get way better on defense," VCU forward Mo Alie-Cox said. "More talk, more rotations, fly around more, get our hands on the ball."

With Wildcats fans making the train and subway ride from Villanova to Barclays, the blue crowd came alive during the decisive 2-minute run.

Ryan Arcidiacono forced a steal, then buried a 3-pointer for a 42-32 lead. Jenkins hit a 3 on the next possession to stretch the lead to nine.

The Wildcats showed some Havoc of their own when three players hit the court in a mad scramble for a loose ball forced by a turnover. Hilliard found the ball and found and Josh Hart for a layup, three-point play and a 12-point lead.

After a woeful effort from the 3-point line in the first half, the Wildcats clicked in the second. With smart ballhandling and the extra pass the backbone of an offense that shot 70 percent most of the second half, Hart made it a 19-point game with a 3 off an assist from Hilliard.

VCU's deep bench never got a chance to wear down the Wildcats and make this one a game.

Both teams needed a true test after 3-0 starts came without much of a serious scare for either team.

_____

TIP-INS

Villanova: Played its first game at Barclays. ... The Wildcats are 62-11 when they score at least 70 points since the 2012-13 season.

VCU: Has already played eight games at the Barclays Center and reached the final of the Atlantic 10 tournament here in 2014. ... VCU failed to start 4-0 for the first time since 1993-94.

UP NEXT

Villanova: Moves on to face Michigan-Oregon winner in Tuesday's final.

VCU: Will face the loser between No. 19 Michigan and Oregon in the loser's bracket on Tuesday.

FOR THREE

Jenkins hit two 3s and was the only player on either team to make more than one. The Wildcats made of 7 of 18. VCU missed 15 of 17. The Rams shot 40 percent (35 of 87) in their first three games.

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