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Swider scores 26, No. 17 Villanova routs MTSU 98-69

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Swider scores 26, No. 17 Villanova routs MTSU 98-69

CONWAY, S.C. -- It’s been awhile since No. 17 Villanova shot this well from long range. Cole Swider has never scored like this.

Swider scored a career-high 26 points with six 3-pointers, and the Wildcats routed Middle Tennessee 98-69 on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.

Collin Gillespie added 16 points and hit four 3s, Justin Moore finished with 15 points and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had 11 rebounds to help Villanova (3-1) - which never trailed, led by 35 and shot 57% while winning its second straight following a 25-point loss at No. 10 Ohio State.

And yet, another number in the box score caught coach Jay Wright’s eye - Swider’s seven rebounds.

“He’s more than just a shooter,” Wright said.

And the Wildcats have plenty of those. They made 18 3s - one shy of the school record, and their most since they also had 18 in a victory over Kansas at the 2018 Final Four.

“They have elite size with great shooters,” Middle Tennessee coach Nick McDevitt said, “and any short close-out or decent close-out results in three points.”

Eleven of them came during a first-half barrage that pushed the lead well into the 20s. Swider hit his fifth 3 from the corner shortly before the buzzer to put the Wildcats up 53-28 at halftime.

Saddiq Bey then took the lead to 30 with a 3-pointer two minutes into the second half.

Donovan Sims scored 18 points and C.J. Jones had 16 for the Blue Raiders (3-2). Leading scorer Antonio Green, averaging 23.5 points going into the game, finished with four points on 1-of-7 shooting while dealing with foul trouble.

“They’ve got a lot of interchangeable parts, so they were switching just to never let him see space,” McDevitt said.

Villanova adds a top 2018 recruit in 6-foot-8 Cole Swider

Villanova adds a top 2018 recruit in 6-foot-8 Cole Swider

Villanova on Friday added another top recruit in 6-foot-8 Cole Swider, who will be a senior this upcoming school year at St. Andrew's in Barrington, Rhode Island.

Swider chose Villanova over Duke, Syracuse and Xavier.

ESPN ranks Swider, who is viewed as an elite shooter, as its No. 48 recruit in the 2018 class.

Swider joins a 2018 Villanova recruiting class that also includes Brandon Slater, a shooting guard from Paul VI in Fairfax, Virginia. Slater was ESPN's No. 42 recruit in the 2018 class.

The Wildcats lost a pair of key players this season in Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart, but help isn't too far away. Omari Spellman, who was ruled academically ineligible last season, will play for the Wildcats this season, and then next year they'll welcome Swider and Slater.