WASHINGTON (AP) — Josh Hart had 15 points and 12 rebounds as No. 6 Villanova took advantage of a cold-shooting, mistake-heavy rival and survived its own second-half cold spell to beat Georgetown 55-50 on Saturday for their 21st consecutive Big East victory.
Despite going almost 6 minutes without a field goal, the Wildcats (16-2, 6-0) won their eighth straight since a December loss to Virginia. Ryan Arcidiacono scored 15 points and Kris Jenkins added 10.
Georgetown (11-7, 4-2) shot 32.7 percent from the field and committed 13 turnovers. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the Hoyas with 15 points but was 6 for 14 from the field.
Villanova hasn’t lost in Big East play since Jan. 19, 2015, when Georgetown won at Verizon Center.
Georgetown’s full-court defense caused Villanova some trouble early, enough for coach Jay Wright to call a timeout to devise how to get around it. Once the Wildcats broke through, they went on a 10-4 run to take a 20-14 lead.
Villanova was in control at 24-17 after a 3-pointer by Hart. But with Smith-Rivera leading the way, Georgetown cut its deficit to four by halftime.
Smith-Rivera had 10 of Georgetown’s 22 points at the half.
Early in the second, the Hoyas went ice cold — including Smith-Rivera. Georgetown missed its first five attempts from the field.
It hurt, too, that Georgetown was whistled for five quick fouls, much to the frustration of coach John Thompson III. Whatever momentum the Hoyas had built up before halftime disappeared.
Meanwhile, Hart and Jenkins led Villanova on a 9-1 run to break the game open. Reggie Copeland’s layup with 13:51 left was Georgetown’s first field goal of the half.
With Georgetown unable to get a break on jump shots, the Wildcats led by as many as 12 points. An alley-oop pass from Arcidiacono to Mikael Bridges made it 40-30 with 8:55 left.
When the Hoyas got going and woke up the Verizon Center crowd, Villanova went 5:39 between field goals. Georgetown scored seven consecutive points and at one point cut Villanova’s lead to three.
Just when it looked like Villanova was losing its cool, at the free throw line especially, Hart and Arcidiacono drove to the basket and built the lead back up. Georgetown’s final chances slipped away on missed jump shots and a turnover by Jessie Govan when the ball slipped out of his hands along the baseline.
Villanova: Forward Daniel Ochefu was in the starting lineup despite dealing with a bruised tailbone and the flu. … Villanova made nine of its final 14 free throws after starting 7 for 12.
Georgetown: The Hoyas fell to 1-3 this season against ranked opponents. They beat then-No. 14 Syracuse at home Dec. 5. … Georgetown held a pregame moment of silence for former Butler player Andrew Smith, who died of cancer Tuesday at the age of 25.
Villanova travels to Seton Hall on Wednesday.
Georgetown travels to No. 7 Xavier on Tuesday.
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