As a freshman, Corey Stokes came in as a jump shooter without much else.
Now, he's a candidate for All-Big East teams because of all the other things he does well. Stokes did shoot the ball extremely well against 18th ranked Louisville, hitting from inside and out on his way to 23 points on just 9 shots. He added 5 boards to help the Wildcats of Villanova own the Cardinals on the glass and improve to 15-1 on the season and 4-0 in the Big East.
Mouphtaou Yarou, the African center who's only played 37 college games so far, continues to improve with each game under Jay Wright. It's amazing how much better his Nova teams are when they have a big man who can control the glass, and with Antonio Pena, they have two. Yarou scored a career-high 18 points on 8-12 shooting and added a game-high 10 rebounds. He also blocked a Peyton Siva shot into the ground, igniting the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center, which was twice as full as it is for Sixers games, even in the snow.
Preston Knowles and walk on Chris Smith were quite impressive for Rick Pitino, scoring 42 of their team's 74 points. But when Nova puts up percentages of .544/.615/.750, out-rebounds you by 10, and goes to the line 16 more times, there's no chance you're winning the game. Maalik Wayans and Corey Fisher also added 15 and 17, respectively, while demonstrating tremendous poise to control the tempo of the game.
They needed the win to keep pace with the Pitt Panthers, who took care of Georgetown for 40 minutes behind another great game out of Ashton Gibbs. Pitt and Nova meet Saturday February 12th in what could be a battle for Big East supremacy, although Syracuse (who shut down St. John's at MSG) will have something to say about that too.
I'll be in attendance on Saturday when Villanova hosts Maryland at the WFC at 1:00 in another huge Big East matchup.