NEW YORK (AP) — Josh Hart scored 19 points and second-seeded Villanova advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009 with an 87-68 rout of seventh-seeded Iowa on Sunday in the South Regional.
Villanova’s senior class, led by Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu, made it to the tournament’s second weekend for the first time. They were upset in the round of 32 the last two seasons and didn’t make it that far as freshmen.
The Wildcats (31-5) will meet third-seeded Miami on Thursday in Louisville, Kentucky.
There was no doubt in this one. Villanova led 54-29 at halftime and by as many as 34 points in the second half. The closest Iowa (22-11) got was 16 points in the final minutes.
Arcidiacono scored 16 points, Kris Jenkins 15 and Jalen Brunson 12. Ochefu had six points and 11 rebounds.
Jarrod Uthoff led Iowa with 16 points. Nicolas Baer had 15 and Peter Jok 11.
The Wildcats took command about 12 minutes in. While Villanova was hitting almost every shot it took — the Wildcats made seven of their first 10 3-point attempts — Iowa couldn’t come up with a basket to stem the tide.
The Hawkeyes went five minutes with a field goal, and Villanova took a 39-21 lead. It didn’t get any better for Iowa, and it couldn’t have remained any better for the Wildcats against the Hawkeyes’ zone.
Villanova, which wasn’t fazed in the least by Iowa’s midcourt trap, closed the half on an 8-0 run. The 54 points were the most the Wildcats have ever scored in a half in the NCAA Tournament.
Villanova shot 60.6 percent in the half. Three players — Jenkins, Hart and Brunson — had already reached double figures. Villanova had just four turnovers, none of which Iowa scored off, and it turned the Hawkeyes’ eight turnovers into 12 points. The Wildcats outrebounded Iowa 19-12.
Villanova lost in the round of 32 as a No. 1 seed last season and as a No. 2 seed in 2014.
The Wildcats had advanced to the second round Friday with an 86-56 thrashing of UNC-Asheville while Iowa needed overtime to beat Temple 72-70 on a tip-in at the buzzer.
Iowa last reached the Sweet 16 in 1999.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes also lost in the round of 32 last year. … Fran McCaffery is one of 12 Division I coaches to take four different programs to the NCAA Tournament (Lehigh, UNC-Greensboro, Siena and Iowa).
Villanova: The Wildcats won the only previous NCAA Tournament meeting between the schools, 55-54 in the second round in 1983. … Villanova is 6-0 at Barclays Center.
Iowa: Season over.
Villanova: South Regional semifinals against third-seeded Miami.
(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)