No. 5 Xavier got its revenge in upsetting No. 1 Villanova at the Cintas Center, 90-83. Guards Edmond Sumner and J.P. Macura led the Musketeers with 19 points each as Xavier shot 50 percent from the field en route to victory.
It was clear from the get-go that Xavier was going to be out for blood in this game. Villanova destroyed Xavier 95-64 back on New Year’s Eve in Philadelphia, and the Musketeers were going to give the Wildcats their all now that the scene had shifted to Cincinnati.
And give Villanova their all they did. After trading baskets for much of the first half, Xavier entered halftime with a 40-37 lead. The back-and-forth game continued in the second half, but then Xavier went into overdrive. A 9-0 run essentially iced the game and Villanova tried to shoot its way out of trouble. Of the 67 shots the Wildcats attempted, 31 came from long range.
Villanova was also out-rebounded 37-33 and leading scorer Josh Hart was limited to 13 points on 4 of 13 shooting.
But it wasn’t poor shooting or getting beat in the rebounding game that sunk Villanova. Rather, it was foul trouble. The soon-to-be former No. 1 team in the nation committed 25 fouls to Xavier’s 16 and, as a result, took just 13 trips to the charity stripe. The Musketeers, on the other hand, attempted 33 free throws and though they missed 10 of them, the extra trips were the key difference maker as three Villanova players fouled out.
Xavier now has the pleasure of being a half-game out of first place in the Big East and Villanova will look to rebound on Saturday on a visit to Marquette, while Xavier will look to run the winning streak to five when it visits Seton Hall on Sunday.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports