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Big East tournament

Villanova takes step off bubble

NEW YORK — Jay Wright has another uncomfortable night ahead of him, looking forward to Villanova's second-round game in the Big East tournament.

Jim Boeheim can rest a bit easier, but for the wrong reasons.

Scottie Reynolds scored 22 and Villanova rode some hot shooting in the second half to knock off Syracuse 82-63 Wednesday and dramatically help its cause in what amounted to an NCAA Tournament elimination game.

The teams split their regular-season meetings and went into the conference tournament needing a couple of wins to breath easier on Selection Sunday.

By the time Reynolds curled in consecutive 3-pointers with less than seven minutes left to extend the lead to double figures, Wright and the Wildcats could exhale ever so slightly.

"I hope it's enough, but I know I have no say in it," Wright said. "We get to play another day. That's all we're interested in, getting to play another day."

Eighth-seeded Villanova advanced to play the top seed, No.  9 Georgetown, in a rematch of a second-round game won last year by the Hoyas. A victory against a team the Wildcats have never beaten in four conference tournament games would almost surely be enough.

"We're just going to go out and play the game," Villanova freshman Corey Stokes said. "Me and my teammates have been really looking forward to this game."

Unlike last season, when Syracuse was left out of the NCAA Tournament despite winning 22 games, Boeheim glumly acknowledged there won't be much Sunday drama this time.

"After last year, we probably had to win two or three games," he said. "We had to keep winning and I don't think one win would have been enough. … In my mind and their mind, if they're not in the NCAA Tournament it's not a good year."

Stokes hit four 3-pointers and finished with 18 points for Villanova, which made 11 3-pointers against Syracuse, including a blistering 8-of-10 in the second half. The Wildcats improved to 14-1 this season when hitting at least eight 3-pointers.

"In the second half, we just didn't do a good job of reacting to where Reynolds and Stokes were," Boeheim said. "The open looks from the 3-point line, I thought, were the difference today."

PITT 70, UC 64: Sam Young scored 21, matching Bearcats guard Deonta Vaughn nearly shot for shot, and the Panthers held on.

Ronald Ramon hit three 3-pointers late and finished with 12 points for seventh-seeded Pittsburgh, which plays second-seeded Louisville today. Keith Benjamin added 15 points and Levance Fields had 10.

Vaughn had 30 points and at one point scored 20 straight for 10th-seeded Cincinnati over a more than 10-minute stretch in the second half. Even Pittsburgh fans rose from their seats when he kept hitting 3-pointers and circus-style layups late in the game.

The Bearcats still wrapped up their season with six straight losses.

W.  VA. 58, PROVIDENCE 53: Joe Alexander scored 22 and the Mountaineers held the Friars to two field goals over the final seven minutes. West Virginia faces fourth-seeded Connecticut in today's quarterfinals.

Alexander, who had averaged 31 points over the past three games, had a hand in West Virginia's last six points. Da'Sean Butler had 17 points for the Mountaineers, including consecutive baskets on offensive rebounds that started West Virginia's game-closing 11-5 run.

Weyinmi Efejuku had 12 points to lead Providence, 1-6 in its past seven Big East tournament games.

Villanova takes step off bubble 03/12/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:37am]
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