No. 6 Villanova routs No. 25 Providence 89-61 to clinch share of Big East title



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VILLANOVA, Pennsylvania — Providence head coach Ed Cooley has no plans of watching the tape of Tuesday's game. He'd prefer to never think about it again.

Villanova's Darrun Hilliard scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half, senior classmate JayVaughn Pinkston had 16 points and eight rebounds, and the No. 6 Wildcats clinched at least a share of their second straight Big East regular-season title with an 89-61 rout of No. 25 Providence on Tuesday night.

Ryan Arcidiacono added 13 points and four assists for the Wildcats (26-2 overall, 13-2 Big East), who shot 53 percent from the field and 52 percent from 3-point range en route to their ninth straight win.

Tyler Harris led the way with 18 point on 8-for-11 shooting for the Friars (19-9, 9-6), who committed 15 turnovers and were never in the game.

"I won't watch this film one bit," Cooley said. "It's one of those games I think every team in the country has. We got our (rear-end) kicked and we've got to keep it moving."

Before the contest, Hilliard and Pinkston were honored for Villanova's senior night ceremony. Tuesday's game was the Wildcats' last of the season at the Pavilion, their on-campus gym where they've won 26 straight dating back to the 2012-13 season.

After Providence pulled within six early in the second half, Hilliard took over. The senior guard scored 14 points in a four-minute stretch, including four 3-pointers, to give Villanova a 54-36 lead with 13 minutes left.

Villanova kept surging, completing a 23-6 run to build a 63-38 advantage midway through the second half before easing home with a dominant win that gave them a three-game lead in the Big East with three to play.

Hilliard is averaging 18.7 points per game during the course of Villanova's nine-game winning streak. He came out to a standing ovation with 3:28 left, shortly before Pinkston exited to similar cheers.

A day after entering the Top 25 for the first time since the 2003-04 season, Providence sputtered from the opening whistle. The Friars committed five turnovers before making their first shot, falling behind 9-0 four minutes into the contest and then 28-13 with 6:09 left in the first half after Arcidiacono and Josh Hart drilled back-to-back 3-pointers.

Providence closed the first half on a 7-0 run but still trailed 34-25 at the half despite shooting 50 percent from the field before the break.

LaDontae Henton and Kris Dunn, two of the top five scorers in the Big East, combined for just seven points in the first half and 16 for the game. Dunn, who entered the contest averaging 15.6 points per game, finished with four points on 2-for-10 shooting and committed six turnovers. And Henton scored eight points below his season average.

"We were looking for him," Cooley said of Henton. "We were definitely looking for him. He leads the league in scoring. We look for him when he gets out of bed. Credit to them - they shrunk the floor and did a good job and we didn't play well."

TIP-INS:

Providence: With their next win, the Friars will post back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 1992-93 and 1993-94. ... In the first half, Dunn had more assists (7) than the entire Villanova team (6). But the sophomore guard didn't have any in the second half. ... The Friars have lost to Villanova twice in the last two weeks.

Villanova: With his eight rebounds, Pinkston became the 11th player in Villanova history to record 1,500 or more points and 700 or more rebounds. ... Head coach Jay Wright has eclipsed 25 wins four times during his 15-year tenure at Villanova, including in two straight seasons. The Wildcats are 54-7 since the start of 2013-14.

NO RESPECT FOR VILLANOVA?

Cooley said time and again following Tuesday's game that he doesn't think Villanova gets enough respect as being one of the best teams in the country. When asked if part of that might be due to the fact that the team doesn't have one true star, he scoffed.

"I think y'all are missing the boat, plain and simple," the Providence coach said. "There are a lot of Stevie Wonder/Ray Charles writers out there that don't appreciate them. From what I see, there were 15 stars on the other bench. ... When I look at their resume vs. the other resumes people are talking about and the conference we're playing in, I just think it's a total lack of respect."

UP NEXT

Providence: Hosts Marquette on Sunday.

Villanova: Visits Xavier on Saturday.

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