Villanova Wildcats

No. 17 Villanova falls to No. 1 Kansas in Final Four rematch

usa_phil_booth_dedric_lawson_kansas_villanova.jpg
USA Today Images

No. 17 Villanova falls to No. 1 Kansas in Final Four rematch

BOX SCORE 

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Lagerald Vick had never watched last season's Final Four loss to Villanova before this week, when top-ranked Kansas had to endure every minute of it while prepping for Saturday's game against the Wildcats.

"We watched it for like, a week straight," Vick said. "It was definitely hard."

He'll have better memories of the rematch.

Vick poured in 29 points Saturday, Dedric Lawson added 28 points and 12 rebounds, and both helped the Jayhawks make just enough free throws in the closing minutes to hold off the No. 17 Wildcats 74-71 in a game that was nip-and-tuck almost the entire way.

Devon Dotson added 11 points for the Jayhawks, including four effortless free throws in the final 1:10 to help Kansas (9-0) end a three-game losing streak to Villanova -- the last two in the NCAA Tournament.

"This atmosphere was just awesome," Wildcats coach Jay Wright. "We played a great program, just a great atmosphere -- tough game -- and they just did a great job getting Lagerald Vick in spots where he wanted it, and Dedric Lawson, you know you're not going to shut them out."

Still, the Wildcats (8-4) had chances in the final couple minutes.

Collin Gillespie's three-point play drew them within 69-65 with 31 seconds left, and Vick gave them an opening when he threw the ball away on the ensuing inbounds play. But Vick atoned for the mistake by pulling down a defensive rebound, and then calmly made a pair of free throws at the other end.

Phil Booth's deep, line-drive 3 got Villanova within 71-68, and after Lawson made the second of two foul shots for a 72-68 lead, Booth added another driving layup to trim the deficit to two.

Lawson added two more free throws to restore a 72-68 lead with 7.5 seconds left, and Gillespie was fouled at the other end. He made the first but was forced to miss the second on purpose, and the ball squirted toward the Wildcats' bench, where a scrum ultimately gave Kansas the ball with 0.4 seconds left.

Once the Jayhawks inbounded the ball, they finally had a long-awaited win over the Wildcats.

Even if it came with far less on the line.

"We're still 1-2 against Villanova," Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. "We beat them in the Sweet 16. They beat us in the Elite Eight. They beat us in the Final Four. The game today was nice, but it wasn't a real game like the others were real games."

Booth finished with 29 points for the Wildcats. Eric Paschall scored 17 but was rendered ineffective down the stretch because of foul trouble, and Gillespie finished with 15 but was just 1 for 7 from 3-point range.

Kansas has now won 39 straight in Allen Fieldhouse as the nation's top-ranked team.

"They're a very good defensive team," Booth said. "We missed some shots at the end, but they did some great things defensively with their length. They just did a great job."

The Jayhawks led 33-31 at halftime, despite playing most of the way without Dotson and fellow starter Quentin Grimes. Grimes picked up three early fouls and Dotson had two, relegating them to the bench.

Their teammates picked them up with the kind of defensive effort Kansas sorely needed in their lopsided Final Four loss, when Paschall and Co. made just about shot they took. The Jayhawks harried the senior forward into a couple of crucial turnovers while largely shutting down the paint.

Villanova found its offensive stride in the second half.

Then again, so did Kansas.

And what most had envisioned as an up-and-down, back-and-forth showdown between national powers turned into precisely that. There were eight ties and eight lead changes, the majority of them in the opening minutes of the second half, as two of college basketball's blue-bloods went toe-to-toe in the Phog.

"This was a good game that allows you to have a quality win," Self said, "and you play through the experiences that make you better. But Jay would tell you, we're both going to play in bigger games than this."

No Quinerly
Villanova freshman Jahvon Quinerly watched from the bench after an Instagram post earlier in the week criticizing his own program. Wright said Quinerly had apologized and it would be used as a "teaching moment." The five-star recruit has played in only eight games this season.

Celeb sightings
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Hall of Fame Royals third baseman George Brett were in the crowd. So was a handful of former Kansas players, including Nick Collison, who is No. 2 on the school's career scoring list.

Big picture
Villanova played much better than it did in a loss to Penn earlier in the week, putting a scare into the No. 1 team in the country. But the Wildcats were just 3 of 15 from beyond the arc in the second half, and they were dominated on the glass for the second consecutive game.

Kansas has certainly earned its ranking, beating a trio of ranked teams already this season. The one thing the Jayhawks haven't done is win a true road game, and they'll get that opportunity when they head to No. 20 Arizona State next weekend.

Up next
Villanova plays UConn next Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas hosts South Dakota on Tuesday night.

Hot-shooting Villanova beats Xavier for sixth straight win

ap_nova.jpg
AP Images

Hot-shooting Villanova beats Xavier for sixth straight win

BOX SCORE

Phil Booth scored 22 points, Collin Gillespie added 18 and No. 22 Villanova beat Xavier 85-75 on Friday night for its sixth straight win.

Eric Paschall added 17 points and eight rebounds for the Wildcats (14-4, 5-0 Big East), who shot 50 percent from the field and made 15 3-pointers to remain the only unbeaten team in the conference.

Tyrique Jones led Xavier (11-8, 3-3) with 21 points and 12 rebounds while Naji Marshall scored 15. The Musketeers were coming off come-from-behind wins over Georgetown and Butler.

Trailing by 11 early in the second half, Xavier went on an 8-0 run, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from Marshall and Ryan Welage, and pulled within one on Paul Scruggs' 3 with 10:56 remaining.

Booth and Jermaine Samuels combined for the next eight points, with Booth hitting a 3-pointer that bounced high off the rim and dropped through the net. Gillespie helped seal the win with his third 3-pointer of the half to put Villanova up 67-55 with six minutes left.

Gillespie shot 6 for 10 from 3-point range while Booth, who's scored at least 20 points in each of his last four games, made 5 of 9 attempts from behind the arc.

The first half was a study in contrasting styles as all but three of Xavier's points came in the paint while Villanova made eight 3-pointers on 18 attempts. Zach Hankins, a 6-foot-11 graduate transfer from Ferris State who was the 2018 NABC Division II Player of the Year, paced Xavier with all 12 of his points before the break.

The Wildcats were missing an inside presence as the team announced before the game that 6-9 freshman Cole Swider will be sidelined indefinitely after fracturing a bone in his right hand during practice on Thursday.

Big picture

Xavier: The Musketeers, who edged 'Nova for the 2018 Big East regular-season title, now have as many losses in the league as they did all of last season. They are winless against Villanova on the road in six tries since the inaugural season of the reconfigured Big East in 2013-14.

Villanova: Chasing their fifth Big East regular-season championship in six years, the Wildcats moved a full game ahead of second-place Marquette. They returned to the AP Top 25 this week for the first time since mid-December.

Up next

Xavier hosts Providence on Wednesday night.

Villanova visits Butler on Tuesday night.

Phil Booth ignites second-half surge as Villanova beats Creighton

ap_phil_booth_villanova.jpg
AP Images

Phil Booth ignites second-half surge as Villanova beats Creighton

OMAHA, Neb. — Villanova called on Phil Booth again. As usual, he delivered.

Booth scored 19 of his 28 points after halftime to ignite the Wildcats' surge as they came from behind to beat Creighton 90-78 on Sunday.

"He's got an incredible humility about him where when you need him, he's there," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "If you don't need him, he's doing all the little things and he's not complaining. It's what makes him a great leader and great player."

Booth made all four of his 3-pointers in the second half and scored eight straight points early in a 26-6 spurt that turned Villanova's 47-38 deficit into a 64-53 lead with 9 minutes left. The Bluejays had two scoring droughts of more than 4 minutes as Villanova (13-4, 4-0 Big East) pulled away.

The defending champion Wildcats came back from sizeable deficits for the third time in four games. They trailed by 13 before beating No. 24 St. John's on Tuesday and by 14 in a win over DePaul on Jan. 2. Booth hit the go-ahead 3-pointer late and scored 23 points against St. John's.

The fifth-year senior said his work is a reflection of the team.

"It's how resilient we are, how mentally tough we are from being down a lot throughout the season," Booth said. "It's learning how to stay calm and doing what we do to fight back and stay aggressive no matter what happens."

For the Bluejays (10-7, 1-3), the loss came after they twice led by nine and followed their crushing overtime home loss to No. 21 Marquette on Wednesday. In that game, they gave up a Big East-record 53 points to Markus Howard and blew a three-point lead with less than a second left in regulation.

"To beat Villanova, it takes tremendous discipline on both ends of the floor," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "I've said on numerous occasions, they just don't beat themselves and they have two of the better players in the league in Booth and Paschall, and they certainly showed that today why they are in that position."

Eric Paschall, also a fifth-year senior, had 21 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Collin Gillespie made four 3s while scoring 14.

Ty-Shawn Alexander made five 3-pointers and scored 17 of his 22 points in the first half as Creighton got out to a nine-point lead. Villanova clamped down on Alexander in the second half, limiting him to two field goals.

The Bluejays were up nine again early in the second, at 47-38, before Villanova stormed back.

Booth led the Wildcats to their first lead since the opening four minutes after Paschall converted a nice pass in the lane from Gillespie. Booth made three free throws after getting fouled shooting a 3-pointer and then a jumper and 3-pointer to put Villanova up 48-47 with 16:36 left.

The Bluejays got it back to 51-all, but Booth made two straight 3s to open another 13-0 spurt that broke it open again.

Big picture 
Villanova: The Wildcats have won five straight and are the only unbeaten team in Big East play. They played their best half of the season on defense in the second half, limiting up-tempo Creighton to 40-percent shooting and 36 points.

Creighton: The Bluejays, who played without injured starter Damien Jefferson (calf, ankle) have lost three straight Big East games and now have to go on the road for back-to-back games.

"We had a really short bench today," McDermott said, "and there were some matchups that were just awful for us given the guys we have available to us. But I thought they fought and competed. Today we got beat by a better team."

Help on the way
Wright is excited about the development of some of his younger players like Jermaine Samuels (13 points, six rebounds, two blocks), Saddiq Bey (seven points, six rebounds) and Jahvon Quinerly (seven points, three rebounds).

"We could be sitting here 7-10 and waiting for those guys, but Phil and E have carried us," Wright said. "Now Jermaine is starting to prove (himself), Quinerly gave us great minutes, Saddiq is starting to get better. It's what we need if we're going to be a good team. Phil and E can't carry us the whole season. They'll get worn down. But the younger guys are starting to come and that's what we're going to have to have to get road wins and beat teams like Creighton."

Up next 
Villanova hosts Xavier on Friday.

Creighton visits St. John's on Wednesday.