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Xavier beats 'Nova for first time in Big East

CINCINNATI — It took three seasons and seven tries for Xavier to finally get the one victory that had eluded it. And maybe tip the balance of power in the Big East, too.

J.P. Macura got Xavier rolling with 19 points off the bench, and freshman point guard Edmond Sumner had 19 points and nine assists as the fifth-ranked Musketeers knocked off top-ranked Villanova 90-83 on Wednesday night.

The Musketeers (25-3, 13-3) led most of the way in the first matchup of Top 5 teams since the Big East was reconfigured, pulling away at the end against the only team they'd never beaten in league play.

"That was amazing," said Myles Davis, who had 16 points as Xavier finished with six players in double figures. "It's the stuff you dream about growing up as a little kid. You want to a. be the No. 1 team or b. beat the No. 1 team. It's just breathtaking right now."

Villanova (24-4, 13-2) was the first No. 1 team to play in the Cintas Center, which opened for the 2000-01 season. The Wildcats couldn't overcome foul trouble or Xavier's balance, losing for only the second time in their past 18 games.

"I think this is one of the best games they've played this year," coach Jay Wright said. "They just played smart. They were a little bit better in each area of the game."

Xavier got ahead by 15 points late and held on with free throws. The Musketeers dominated the boards 42-33.

Kris Jenkins scored 22 for Villanova but fouled out with 8:47 left. Daniel Ochefu also sat most of the second half with four fouls.

It was one of those measuring-up games for Xavier, which aspired to be one of the Big East's best when it left the Atlantic 10. The Musketeers had beaten every team except Villanova — going 0-6 — in the reconfigured league and knew this was the last obstacle to challenging the Wildcats' hold on the top of the league.

"I think we have bigger fish to fry," coach Chris Mack said. "We have a group that if they continue to get better, the sky's the limit and I think our team understands that."

NO. 7 UNC 80, N.C. STATE 68: Brice Johnson had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the visiting Tar Heels (23-5, 12-3 ACC), who shook off a slow start and an early 13-point hole to beat the Wolfpack for the 19th time in their past 21 meetings.

WIS. 67, NO. 8 IOWA 59: Bronson Koenig scored 15 for the visiting Badgers (18-10, 10-5 Big Ten), who boosted their NCAA Tournament resume by handing the Hawkeyes (20-7, 11-4) their third loss in four games. Wisconsin has nine wins in its past 10 games.

NO. 11 LOUISVILLE 67, PITT 60: Quentin Snider scored 14, Damion Lee added 13 and the visiting Cardinals (22-6, 11-4 ACC) pulled away in the final minutes by hitting their last nine field goals.

NO. 21 TEXAS A&M 68, MISS. ST. 66: Danuel House had 16 points, including two free throws with 2.1 seconds left, to lift the host Aggies (21-7, 10-5 SEC) to their third straight win following a four-game skid.

NO. 23 N. DAME 69, WAKE 58: Zach Auguste had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the visiting Fighting Irish (19-8, 10-5 ACC), who avoided their first two-game losing streak in nearly two years.

HOUSTON 88, UCF 61: Damyean Dotson scored 17 and the visiting Cougars clinched a first-round bye at the American Athletic Conference tournament by handing the Knights (11-15, 5-10) their sixth straight loss.

USF women win 20th

TULSA, Okla. — Courtney Williams had 33 points and Laura Ferreira added 18 as USF (20-7, 13-3 AAC) beat Tulsa 72-66 and clinched a first-round bye in the conference tournament.

The Bulls reached 20 wins for the fourth straight season and the seventh time overall under head coach Jose Fernandez.

USF took control with a 10-0 run midway through the third quarter.

NO. 1 UCONN 88, SMU 41: Freshman Katie Lou Samuelson matched her season high with 21 points for the host Huskies (27-0, 16-0 AAC), who clinched their third straight regular-season conference championship with their 64th straight win.

MINNESOTA 90, NO. 5 OHIO ST. 88, OT: Rachel Banham scored 35 in her final game at Williams Arena and Carlie Wagner scored with 0.8 seconds left in overtime to lift the host Golden Gophers past the Buckeyes (23-5, 10-7 Big Ten).

NO. 8 TEXAS 76, TEXAS TECH 55: Kelsey Lang scored 12, including eight on a crucial 16-2 second-quarter run, and the visiting Longhorns (25-2, 14-2 Big 12) won their 25th straight.

NO. 20 MICH. ST. 71, ILLINOIS 43: Aerial Powers had 26 points and 10 rebounds for the visiting Spartans (21-7, 12-5 Big Ten), who outscored the Illini 27-2 in the fourth quarter.

NO. 22 OKLA. ST. 71, KANSAS 49: Brittney Martin had 24 points for the host Cowgirls (20-7, 10-6 Big 12).

USF vs. Connecticut

7:30 tonight, Sun Dome Records: USF 7-21, 4-11 AAC; Connecticut 19-8, 9-5 TV/radio: CBS Sports Network; 820-AM

FSU at No. 15 Duke

7 tonight, Durham, N.C. Records: FSU 16-11, 6-9 ACC; Duke 20-7, 9-5 TV/radio: ESPN; 1010-AM

Xavier beats 'Nova for first time in Big East 02/24/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 11:24pm]
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