BOX SCORE

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – All Darryl Reynolds did Saturday was triple his career scoring high.

Against the 11th-ranked team in the country.

In their gym.

In front of 13,000 enemy fans.

Previous career high? Six.

New career high: 19.

Now, that is a breakthrough.

Reynolds, a Villanova junior who’s been stuck behind Daniel Ochefu for 2½ years, has finally gotten a chance to play big minutes with Ochefu sidelined with a concussion.

On Saturday, in his third start in place of Ochefu and fourth career start, he made nine of 10 shots, scored 19 points and added 10 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals in a monster performance that helped No. 3 Villanova hold off No. 11 Providence, 72-60, at a frenzied, sold-out Dunkin' Donuts Center (see Instant Replay).

Juniors Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart also had double-doubles for Villanova, and Ryan Arcidiacono – the only Wildcat senior who played – scored nine of his 16 in the final 3 ½ minutes to help hold off a furious Providence comeback bid.

“It says that what our coaching staff preaches on a daily basis is legit,” said Reynolds, a 6-7 forward from Philly.

“One of our guys goes down, the next guy is ready to step up. There is no thought about it. It’s not, ‘Is anybody nervous,’ or anything like that. It says that we’re legit.”

Reynolds played a career-high 36 minutes Saturday, and to put his performance in perspective, he went into Providence with a season scoring average of 2.3 points and a career average of 1.4.

Saturday, he dominated one of the top teams in the country.

“He does it every day in practice,” junior Kris Jenkins said. “When his number is called, he’s ready.”

It hasn’t been easy for Reynolds, who averaged only four minutes per game his first two years at Villanova.

But Jenkins said he never got discouraged. He just kept working.

“He has the most positive attitude of any person that I’ve ever met,” Jenkins said. “He’s a believer and he trusts the process, the road that he’s been given. He’s stepping up for us now and going forward and it’s great to see.”

Ochefu, among the Big East leaders in field goal percentage, blocks and rebounding, has missed three games with a concussion suffered in practice, and Villanova is 3-0 in those games, with Reynolds averaging 10.7 rebounds and 9.0 points.

He made nine baskets Saturday. He never made more than two in any previous game.

“I thought Darryl was just a force inside,” coach Jay Wright said. “He does it in practice. No one on our team is surprised.

“We’ve talked about it all along. Each player’s career is special to them and it’s special to us, and we’ve been telling Darryl, part of Daniel’s development is going against Darryl every day. A lot of times, the games are easier for Daniel than the practices because of Darryl. And we’ve told Darryl, ‘You’re improving, people just aren’t seeing it.’ They’re going to.

“And he’s got his opportunity, and the fact that he is ready for this just shows his maturity and intelligence, because he has been playing like this in practice.”

But this wasn’t practice, this was a wild Big East showdown between battle-tested teams, and it came 15 days after Providence topped Villanova in overtime at the Wells Fargo Center.

Villanova improved to 20-3 overall and 10-1 in the Big East. Providence fell to 18-6 and 6-5. The Friars have lost five of their last nine games.

No word when Ochefu will be back, but the way Reynolds is playing certainly makes it less urgent.

“It’s something I love seeing, personally,” Hart said. "That’s my brother, that’s who I came in with. We see it on a daily basis, we see him going against Daniel and them having battles. There’s times he comes out having a better day than Daniel and sometimes vice versa.

“We’ve always seen it, and now to do it the last couple games is really rewarding. To do it against a great, physical team up here? The adversity here was just crazy. So to see him do that, it’s really rewarding for everybody to see. Because we’ve seen the work he’s put in over the years. For him to reap the benefits, it’s great to see.”

Reynolds was asked after the game what it’s like practicing against Ochefu.

“Oh, man,” he said. “Daniel is a handful. First of all, he’s a (7-) footer, and so you know that in itself is a big deal. But he has such a good touch around the rim. He’s developed his shots, so I have to play him even harder now.

“But his decision making the biggest thing is – he might hit the right person for a pass or he might fake you and make a good move. Going against Daniel has honestly made me what I am today.”

And get this: Villanova is one of the best defensive teams in the country. It's ranked seventh in Division I in points allowed and 12th in field goal percentage.

And the Wildcats are even better with Reynolds on the floor, according to Wright.

“We’ve definitely played better defensively,” he said. “Daniel is a very good defensive player. Darryl might be a little bit better defensively. Daniel struggles sometimes in practice to score because he’s playing against Darryl.

“Darryl can guard on the perimeter a little bit better. Daniel’s just experienced.”

Villanova led by 19 early – 29-10 with 6½ minutes to go in the first half – and still led by 15 at 56-41 with 7 ½ minutes left in the game.

But Providence roared back with four three’s in 116 seconds late in the game and got as close as five points at 58-53 with five minutes left.

But this Wildcat team doesn’t lose its composure.

A Jenkins three at 4:49 extended the lead out to eight, and Arcidiacono and Jalen Brunson made eight straight foul shots down the stretch.

Hart, despite being guarded by Big East Player of the Year Kris Dunn, shot 7-for-13 for 14 points and added 13 rebounds. He’s got double-doubles in six of his last nine games. Jenkins had 10 points, 10 boards and four assists.

Villanova outrebounded Providence 46-29 and limited the Friars to 33 percent from the field.

“Great road victory against for us an outstanding team in an electric college basketball environment,” Wright said. “Really fun to be a part of it. Today was just special to be a part of.”