The Dallas Morning News

Nova slams Xavier to tighten Big East race

No. 2 Michigan State roars back from huge deficit to avoid upset

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CINCINNATI — Mikal Bridges led an early 3-point shooting spurt that put Villanova in control, and the third-ranked Wildcats showed they’re not ready to relinquish their reign in the Big East, beating No. 4 Xavier 95-79 on Saturday in a showdown atop the league.

The Wildcats (24-3, 11-3) have won all four regular-season titles since the league was reconfigur­ed. Xavier (24-4, 12-3) had a chance to take control of the race but simply wasn’t up to the Wildcats’ level in the biggest game of the season. Now, Xavier’s lead is down to a half game and Villanova has swept the season series.

Bridges scored 25 points in a Villanova balanced attack. Trevon Bluiett had 26 points for Xavier, which had its nine-game winning streak snapped.

The Wildcats ended their three-game shooting slump by making 11 3-pointers in the first half when they pulled out to a 19-point lead.

Bluiett led a second-half surge that cut it to 64-61 with 11 minutes left before Bridges’ basket blunted the comeback. Donte DiVincenzo hit back-to-back 3s as the Wildcats rebuilt their

lead to double digits and pulled away. DiVincenzo finished with 21 points. No. 2 Michigan State 65,

Northweste­rn 60: In Rosemont, Ill., Cassius Winston scored 17 points, and Michigan State erased a 27-point deficit to extend its winning streak to 10 games.

Nick Ward added 15 points and 10 rebounds, Miles Bridges hit four free throws in the final minute and the Spartans (26-3, 14-2 Big Ten) used a huge second

half to pull out the win.

Vic Law cooled off after a blistering start to finish with 21 points for Northweste­rn. Wildcats (15-13, 6-9) fans chanted “Overrated!” after leading 49-27 at halftime, but Northweste­rn made just 3 of 26 field goals after the break. No. 9 Gonzaga 81, Pepperdine 67: In Spokane, Wash., Johnathan Williams had 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Gonzaga (25-4, 15-1 West Coast) held off last-place Pepperdine (4-24, 1-15) for its ninth straight victory. South Carolina 84, No.

10 Auburn 75: In Columbia, S.C., Frank Booker scored 19 points, and South Carolina built a 26-point lead before holding on to end a six-game losing streak. Auburn (23-4, 11-3 SEC) starting forward Anfernee McLemore suffered a gruesome injury, fracturing his tibia and dislocatin­g his left ankle, at the end of the first half. No. 14 North Carolina 93, Louisville 76: In Louisville, Ky., Joel Berry scored 23 points, Luke Maye had 13 rebounds and UNC dominated the boards and second-chance points to grab its fifth consecutiv­e victory.

The Tar Heels (21-7, 10-5 ACC) scored 10 straight points for a 12-3 lead before warming up from long range to eventually build a 19-point cushion. Louisville (18-9, 8-6) got within single digits several times but no closer than seven points. No. 15 Saint Mary’s 73, Portland 61: In Portland, Ore., Jock Landale had 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Saint Mary’s (254, 14-2 WCC) rebounded from a pair of losses to net its 25th win for the third straight season. Georgia 73, No. 18 Tennessee 62: In Athens, Ga., Yante Maten scored 19 points, Derek Ogbeide added 16 points and 11 rebounds and Georgia upset the Vols (19-7, 9-5 SEC). No. 24 Nevada 93, Utah State 87: In Logan, Utah, Cody Martin scored 30 points on 13of-18 shooting and twin brother Caleb Martin added 23 for the Wolf Pack (23-5, 11-2 Mountain West), who shot 59.3 percent from the field.

 ?? Joe Robbins/Getty Images ?? Villanova’s Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (center) dunks between Xavier’s J.P. Macura (left) and Sean O’Mara.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images Villanova’s Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (center) dunks between Xavier’s J.P. Macura (left) and Sean O’Mara.

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