VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — Ryan Arcidiacono scored 15 points and JayVaughn Pinkston had 13 to help No. 6 Villanova beat Butler 67-55 on Wednesday and match the best start in program history.
The Wildcats are 13-0 (1-0 Big East) for the first time since the 1937-38 season. That team lost for the first time in its 14th game.
Daniel Ochefu had 10 points and nine rebounds for Villanova, and Kris Jenkins scored 11.
Alex Barlow and Andrew Chrabascz both scored 12 points for Butler (10-4, 0-1).
The Big East-favorite Wildcats opened an 11-point lead in the first half and then built a second double-digit lead after the Bulldogs pulled within four at halftime.
Butler never managed to rally again after missing 12 of its first 14 shots in the second half.
Villanova leading scorer Darrun Hilliard returned to the lineup after sitting out one game with a concussion. He scored eight points on 2-of-5 shooting.
Pinkston scored off the opening tip, Ochefu scored off a turnover and the Wildcats were up 8-2 in minutes. Arcidiacono hit a pair of 3-pointers early in the game to stretch the lead for the Wildcats and show he might be moving out of his early-season slump.
Arcidiacono, a 6-foot-3 junior point guard, had a knack for hitting big shots late in games for the Wildcats during his first two seasons and he took control as one of their go-to players in crunch time.
But he was in a major funk for most of this season, including a 9-for-33 stretch over five games when he cracked double-digit scoring just once. Coach Jay Wright pinned some of the blame on Arcidiacono’s academic pressures and never lost faith in the guard.
Arcidiacono responded the last two games with nine assists and no turnovers against Syracuse and a 16-point game on 6-of-12 shooting against NJIT.
Arcidiacono assisted on Jenkins’ 3-pointer midway through the second half that made it 48-38, and the Wildcats pulled away from there. Ochefu hit back-to-back jumpers and Pinkston followed with a three-point play that made it 59-43.
The Bulldogs briefly cracked the AP Top 25 after a win against North Carolina before two straight losses helped knock them out of the poll.
Butler: The Bulldogs made their first shot of the game, then missed the next nine. … Butler outrebounded Villanova 39-29. … Butler had won two straight.
Villanova: Hilliard had started 79 straight games before sitting out against NJIT. … The Wildcats are 9-5 in Big East openers under Wright. … Villanova made 16 of 26 free throws.
Butler plays Saturday at No. 15 St. John’s.
Villanova plays Saturday at Seton Hall.
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