Georgetown's NCAA hopes take big hit from Nova
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Georgetown's bid to make the NCAA tournament took another hit on Saturday, and the Hoyas now will likely need a deep run in the Big East tournament to have any chance qualify.
Darrun Hilliard scored 19 points to lead No. 6 Villanova to a dominating 77-59 victory over Georgetown, preserving the Wildcats' hopes of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Markel Starks scored 20 points for the Hoyas (17-13, 8-10), who are in jeopardy of failing to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera added 14 points and Aaron Bowen had 13 for Georgetown.
The Hoyas are the No. 7 seed in the tournament that starts Wednesday night.
"We'll put all of our energy into getting ready for that first game," Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. "We'll have to play better than we did today, significantly better."
Against Villanova, Georgetown struggled with turnovers (18) and foul trouble (23).
"We have a small margin of error," Thompson III said. "We had some unnecessary, unforced turnovers. We tried to claw back in it and claw back in it. We had some missed opportunities. We've had several games where our post players have been in significant foul trouble. It's more harmful for us when our guards are in foul trouble because we depend on them so much."
Starks, who entered averaging a team-best 17 points per game, had three fouls with 6:40 left in the first half when the Wildcats took control.
Bell's four-point play with 49.8 seconds left in the half gave Villanova its largest lead of the period, 42-27. Bell had 11 points in the half for the Wildcats, who shot 52 percent from the field and 57 percent from the arc in the opening 20 minutes.
Bowen had nine points before the break to pace Georgetown, which battled foul trouble in the first half. Jabril Trawick also had three fouls before the break.
Villanova upped its advantage to 20 points when Arcidiacono made two 3-pointers on consecutive Villanova possessions to give the Wildcats a 55-35 lead with 13:02 remaining.
The Hoyas never got it under double-digits the rest of the way.
"We forced a lot of things we shouldn't have," Smith-Rivera said. "They were being aggressive defensively and that caused turnovers and caused us to force certain things we shouldn't have."
The Hoyas will look to rebound with a strong performance in New York.
"Now we have to focus on the Big East tournament, that's the only thing we can do," Trawick said.
The 18-point win marked the largest margin of victory for Villanova in a Big East game between the teams.
JayVaughn Pinkston added 13 points, and James Bell and Ryan Arcidiacono had 11 apiece for the Wildcats (28-3, 16-2), who won their sixth straight game while tying the 2005-06 team for second-most wins in program history. Villanova's 16 Big East wins are the most in school history.
"I don't try to predict our record but if someone forced me to, I never would've predicted 28-3," coach Jay Wright said.
Villanova is in position for a No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament with a good run in the conference tournament. The Wildcats, who were helped by Kansas' loss on Saturday, already have secured the Big East regular-season title and the top seed in the conference tournament. Villanova opens play in the Big East tournament Thursday.
Wright said chemistry has been a key to the Wildcats' success.
"Most of your teams that are good get along, but this is a really unique group," Wright said. "I think they are all really similar, and they do look out for each other. It's a pleasure to coach guys who love to play. They love to play together. It was really fun to be a part of that."