<span class="vcard">Rob Dauster</span>

Daniel Ochefu, Bryce Scott
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

No. 11 Villanova holds off Seton Hall 72-63

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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) Daniel Ochefu made it OK for once for 3-point happy Villanova to keep clanging shots off the rim.

He cleaned up messes on both ends and showed there is more to the Big East power than just fantastic guards.

Ochefu had 20 points and 18 rebounds in one of the best games for a Villanova big man in years, leading the No. 11 Wildcats to a 72-63 victory over Seton Hall on Wednesday night.

Ochefu, a 6-foot-11, 245-pound forward, made 6 of 13 shots and was 8 of 10 from the free-throw line to help Villanova (13-2, 3-0 Big East) win its fifth straight game.

“Defend and rebound. That’s what gets us through,” Ochefu said.

Ochefu has developed into Villanova’s most reliable shooter, connecting on 18 of 20 field goals in Villanova’s last three wins. He entered the game shooting 66 percent from the field and that’s with a mid-range jumper he’s worked into his arsenal.

Josh Hart had 15 points and 10 rebounds to ease Villanova’s miserable 4-of-22 night from 3-point range.

“I think games like this are good for because we find a way to get out with defense and rebounding,” Ochefu said.

The two-time defending Big East champions are again the team to beat in a stacked conference.

“The Big East is a long way from over,” coach Jay Wright said. “There are lot of good teams in the league.

Isaiah Whitehead led the Pirates (12-3, 2-1) with 20 points, and Khadeen Carrington had 14.

With the Wildcats 3-point game on ice, they missed 18 of their first 20 attempts, Seton Hall cashed in early in the second half and whittled a double-digit deficit down to two. Veer Singh buried a 3 in front of the Seton Hall bench that sent his teammates into a frenzy and made it 42-40.

But the Wildcats don’t lose at home very often, and showed why they have a 35-game winning streak at the Pavilion.

Kris Jenkins missed a mid-range jumper and Hart scooted to the basket untouched for the rebound and bucket to make it 48-41. Ryan Arcidiacono made all three free throws after he was fouled on a 3-point attempt and Nova took an eight-point lead. Ochefu’s layup pushed the lead back to double digits.

“That’s what we expect from Daniel every single day,” Arcidiacono said. “We know any time we can’t make shots, we’re going to make straight-line drives and try to get him an easy basket. He was finishing.”

Whitehead, who had 15 points, had a nasty collision with Hart and held his face as he walked straight to the locker room. He returned a few minutes later, but his output wasn’t enough to keep the Pirates within striking distance of an upset victory.

“We played good defense, then we gave up offensive rebounds,” Carrington said. “Ochefu, the bigs did a good job of battling him. But the guards, we didn’t gave them no help on getting long rebounds. I blame that on us.”

The Wildcats, coming off a 14-point win over unbeaten Xavier, pulled out a win even with awful 3-point shooting. The Wildcats usually go as far as their long game takes them, and faced early exits in March when they shoot bricks.

Against Xavier, the Wildcats made 13 of 25 overall; they missed 28 of 32 against Oklahoma.

Hart hit Nova’s third 3 of the game with 4:09 left for a 63-49 lead and that was enough of a cushion for the Wildcats.

TIP-INS

Seton Hall: Seton Hall lost for the 15th straight time at the Pavilion. Its last win was Feb. 26, 1994. … Seton Hall played Villanova for the 108th time, the program’s highest total of games against a single opponent. … Seton Hall is still the only Big East team to beat Villanova in each of the last two seasons. … Derrick Gordon led with 10 rebounds.

Villanova: 76ers coach Brett Brown was at the game. … Ochefu moved into 15th on Villanova’s career rebound list.

HEADS UP

Neshaminy High School boys basketball coach Jerry Devine apparently head-butted a referee during a game and has been put on leave. Arcidiacono played for Devine in high school. “Coach Devine is a great guy,” Arcidiacono said. “I was surprised to hear what happened. I texted him that I was thinking of him and how good a person he is.” Arcidiacono’s brother Chris is a sophomore guard at Neshaminy.

“It’s an unfortunate situation but it’s something I’ve never seen from him in the past,” Ryan Arcidiancono said.

UP NEXT

Seton Hall hosts Creighton on Saturday.

Villanova plays at No. 18 Butler on Sunday.

No. 13 Iowa State holds off Texas Tech 76-69

Georges Niang, Nick Perkins
(AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
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AMES, Iowa (AP) With just 17 minutes left, Iowa State star Georges Niang was whistled for what would’ve been his fourth foul.

The officials quickly reversed the call – a decision that likely saved the Cyclones.

Matt Thomas scored a career-high 22 points, Jameel McKay had 19 points with 14 rebounds and four blocks and 13th-ranked Iowa State held off Texas Tech 76-69 on Wednesday for its first Big 12 win.

Georges Niang scored all of his 14 points in the second half for the Cyclones (12-2, 1-1 Big 12). They nearly blew an 18-point first-half lead before a crucial late flourish put away the Red Raiders.

“Georges is obviously a huge, huge key to our team. We need him on the floor,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said.

The Cyclones needed Thomas too.

He gave Iowa State a much-needed cushion with a step-back 3 with 1:33 left. Monte Morris followed with an alley-oop pass to Abdel Nader to put Iowa State ahead 74-65 with 1:07 left.

Justin Gray scored 14 points for the Red Raiders (11-2, 1-1). They were playing their first true road game.

“We struggled in the first half…but we showed a lot of heart and a lot of toughness,” Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith said.

Texas Tech was brilliant to start the second half though, chopping a 10-point deficit to 54-52 after the Cyclones opened 3 of 16 from the field.

Thomas and Niang helped Iowa State keep Tech at bay with crucial 3s, with Niang giving the Cyclones a 65-60 lead with 4:35 left.

“We just weren’t getting consistent stops until late in the game,” Thomas said. “We just have to grind it, show grit.”

When Niang went to the bench with two fouls after just 2 minutes, Tech’s chances for an upset seemed to rise.

Niang’s teammates picked him up, putting the Red Raiders in a huge early hole.

Iowa State ripped off 11 straight points midway through the first half, jumping ahead 31-13 by pounding Texas Tech in the paint. The Red Raiders responded with a 10-0 run, forcing Niang back in. He promptly picked up his third foul on a charge, but the Cyclones were able to stay ahead 40-30.

Texas Tech got within a possession on a few occasions, but Niang’s strong second half was too much to overcome.

“We gave ourselves a chance, just couldn’t pull it out,” Smith said.

TIP-INS

Iowa State: Niang entered play as the only player in the nation with at least 1,700 career points, 550 rebounds and 325 assists. He also racked up his 23rd straight double-digit scoring game after a scoreless first half..The Cyclones came into the game averaging 14.1 fouls per game, the fewest in the nation. They were called for 15.

Texas Tech: The loss knocked coach Tubby Smith back below .500 at Tech. He’s 38-39. … Toddrick Gotcher had 12 points and eight assists, and Norense Odiase had 11 points…

PIVOTAL MOMENT

Thomas has excelled since replacing the injured Naz Mitrou-Long in the starting lineup, and his crucial late 3 showed how much his confidence has risen. Thomas shook off the oncoming defender and found the space needed for an open look. “I’m finding my rhythm,” Thomas said. Thomas is averaging nearly 13 points a game since entering the starting lineup.

COURTSIDE

Despite losing its first league game, Texas Tech showed it might be a handful in the league this season. The Red Raiders shot 43 percent despite hitting just 2 of 15 3s. “We didn’t panic, and that looks good going forward,” Gotcher said.

WHAT’S NEXT

Iowa State hosts Baylor on Saturday.

Texas Tech plays at No. 1 Kansas on Saturday.

No. 3 Maryland beats Rutgers, Melo Trimble sits out second half

Maryland guard Melo Trimble (AP Photo/Matt Hazlett)
(AP Photo/Matt Hazlett)
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No. 3 Maryland steamrolled Rutgers in College Park on Wednesday, winning 88-63 in a game that wasn’t even really that close.

The Terps were up by 28 at the half.

It was over 10 minutes before that.

Jake Layman scored 18 points to lead the Terps and Diamond Stone added 15 points and 10 boards, but that’s not the story of this game. Melo Trimble is, because Melo Trimble played just 14 minutes and scored just four points, all of free throws, due to what was termed a hamstring injury.

He’s an All-American and the best player on the Maryland roster. Hamstring injuries are the kind of thing that can be difficult to fully recover from. Is he OK?

“Melo’s fine,” head coach Mark Turgeon said after the game.
“Melo will be fine.”

Our friends over at CSNMidAtlantic.com broke down what, exactly, happened:

At multiple points in the first half, Trimble was being worked on by the team trainer on the sidelines, but he re-entered the game. He had four points on 4-of-4 free throw shooting in the first.

Before the start of the second half, he went through the layup line with his teammates — though a bit gingerly. He spoke with the team’s trainer while still trying to stretch out the area. Ultimately, he would not play again Wednesday night but he did remain on the bench with his teammates.

Doesn’t sound like there is too much here to be worried about.