Villanova turned in a rough offensive performance in its first game without senior guard Corey Stokes.
The 15th-ranked Wildcats could be without Stokes again Tuesday night as they try to avoid a third straight loss by posting a ninth straight victory over Seton Hall.Villanova (19-6, 7-5 Big East) has not dropped three in a row since a five-game slide Jan. 23-Feb. 4, 2008. The Wildcats have lost four of six overall, falling 57-54 on Saturday to No. 4 Pittsburgh.Without Stokes, Villanova shot 36.0 percent in finishing with its lowest point total.Stokes, second on the team with 14.6 points per game, sat out because of turf toe and is listed as day to day.Maalik Wayns returned to the starting lineup and had 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting after coming off the bench the last three games.If Stokes is out, he will miss a chance to play for the final time in his home state. Another New Jersey high school product, Corey Fisher, will try to make amends for a difficult effort in last week's trip to the state.Fisher had 23 points and 10 assists in Wednesday's 77-76 loss at Rutgers, but his night will be remembered for his foul on Jonathan Mitchell that led to Mitchell's game-winning four-point play. Fisher also missed a free throw with 6.3 seconds remaining that left Villanova with a three-point lead.One bright spot Saturday was another strong effort from Mouphtaou Yarou, who notched his fourth double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Yarou is averaging 13.5 points on 65.4 percent shooting in his last four games.Villanova should be confident against Seton Hall (11-14, 5-8), which hasn't won in this series since Feb. 21, 2004.The Wildcats will be focused on trying to slow down Jeremy Hazell, who has had big games in his two starts against them. Hazell scored 32 in last season's 81-71 loss and had 26 in an 89-85 overtime defeat two seasons ago in Villanova's first trip to the Prudential Center.The senior guard became the fourth player in Seton Hall history to score 2,000 points with 19 in Saturday's 69-64 victory at Rutgers. Hazell missed 13 games this season with a wrist injury and was wounded in a robbery attempt near his New York City home around Christmas."He's the heart and soul of this program the last four years," first-year coach Kevin Willard said. "The young man has gone through a lot physically and emotionally this year. He's been here for what, three and a quarter years; to do it in that time is amazing."The victory came hours after Willard dismissed seniors Keon Lawrence and Jamel Jackson from the team for violations of team rules. Six Pirates combined to log 181 of the 200 minutes."I like playing a lot of guys, it wears the other guys down," Willard said. "The only good thing about having a short rotation now is that it's February."