PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — James Bell scored 17 points, Darrun Hilliard added 16 and Villanovanever trailed on the way to beating Southern California 93-79 on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Ryan Arcidiacono scored all 14 of his points in the first half for the Wildcats. Dylan Ennis, who had not played this season because of a broken right hand, scored 14 more on 4 for 5 shooting for Villanova, which got 12 from JayVaughn Pinkston.
Villanova (5-0) will play either No. 2 Kansas or Wake Forest in Friday’s semifinals. USC (4-2) will meet the other in the consolation round.
Pe’Shon Howard scored 23 points for USC, which finished with seven assists and 16 turnovers.
An 18-6 second-half spurt put things away for the Wildcats, whose lead was down to 59-50 with 11:45 left to play and swelled to 77-56 over the next 5 minutes. Bell had a 3-pointer, a steal to set up a dunk, and then a run-capping layup for Villanova, which wasn’t in trouble the rest of the way.
Villanova set a record for single-game points in the 3-year-old event, and held the Trojans to 40 percent shooting. Byron Wesley scored 15 and Roschon Prince added 12 for USC.
Maybe it was being 2,500 miles from home or playing a game that started at 10 a.m. Los Angeles time, but for whatever reason, the Trojans weren’t sharp in the opening minutes. Villanova got two deflections and a steal on the game’s first possession to set the tone for a first half where the Wildcats were pretty much in control throughout.
Early leads of 11-2, 17-8 and 27-18 seemed to have Villanova poised to pull away. But the Trojans — who had as many field-goal attempts (nine) as they had turnovers in the first 12 minutes — kept sticking around, and Howard’s three-point play with 6:29 left in the half got USC within 27-26.
The rest of the half was all Villanova.
Arcidiacono made three jumpers in the span of 76 seconds, one coming after he head-faked Chass Bryan into leaping past him before making a right-wing jumper and the last of them being a 3-pointer that gave Villanovaits first double-digit lead of the day at 38-28. The lead grew to 14 late in the half when Ennis hit a 3-pointer,Villanova’s eighth in the first 20 minutes.
It was the first of 12 games to be played in three days in the Bahamas, though the dramatics actually started ahead of schedule Wednesday night when members of the USC and Texas-El Paso staffs exchanged some heated words at a pre-tournament gathering.
USC coach Andy Enfield — whose profile soared enormously and quickly last season, when he led little-known Florida Gulf Coast into the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament — was quoted in December’s issue of Men’s Journal talking about UTEP coach Tim Floyd, saying he “shows up every day at work and realizes he lives in El Paso, Texas. And he’s (angry) that he didn’t get the USC job.”
The relationship with Floyd, a former coach of the Trojans, and Enfield has been tenuous for some time amid allegations that USC tampered with a recruit who was committed to the Miners.
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