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No. 7 Villanova rallies in 82-77 overtime win over Syracuse

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — JayVaughn Pinkston had 25 points and 10 rebounds and Darrun Hilliard scored 23 points, keeping No. 7 Villanova undefeated with an 82-77 overtime win over Syracuse on Saturday.

The Wildcats (11-0) never led until overtime and rallied from a 15-point hole to stun their former Big East rival.

Josh Hart buried a 3-pointer and Pinkston tied the score 69-all with 4.2 seconds left in regulation on a basket off a turnover.

Hilliard’s two free throws 57 seconds into OT gave Villanova its first lead of the game 71-69. He was kicked in the face during a scrum and was on the bench when Daniel Ochefu made two free throws that pushed the lead to 74-71.

Pinkston scored a late bucket, then added a monster block that preserved the lead with 15 seconds left.

Rakeem Christmas and Michael Gbinije each scored 18 points for Syracuse (6-4).

Josh Hart added 21 points in the toughest win of the season for coach Jay Wright’s Wildcats.

The Orange never trailed in regulation and the Wildcats could only get as close as one point late in the second half. Pinkston’s three-point play with 1:14 left cut the lead to 63-62. Christmas followed with a three-point play off a goaltending call that stretched the lead to four and had the Orange in position to play spoiler for the second straight season — Villanova was 11-0 last season when it lost at Syracuse.

But Pinkston and Hilliard did enough down the stretch against an Orange team that was in foul trouble all game. The Orange had seven players with at least three fouls and three fouled out.

The Wildcats were 26 of 32 from the free-throw line; Syracuse 13 of 18.

The Orange scored with ease in the first half against a Wildcats defense that failed to make any consistent stops. Gbinije and Trevor Cooney hit consecutive 3s for an 11-point lead and the Orange were rolling.

The Wildcats scored six points in 37 seconds to make it a 10-point game, but it was just a blip in an otherwise dismal half.

Cooney, who scored 17 points, steadied the Orange with his third 3-pointer of the first half and helped them earn a 43-31 halftime lead. Led by Cooney, the Orange shot 67 percent from 3-point range in the half. Gbinije and Christmas each scored 11 points in the half and Syracuse shot 63 percent overall.

Syracuse just got by Louisiana Tech 71-69 on Sunday, leaving coach Jim Boeheim wondering about his team.

“Whatever I thought about this team, they’re not. This team is nowhere near being a good basketball team. Anywhere. I’ve never said that since I’ve been here. Not that they couldn’t be, but they’re not,” he said.

TIP-INS

Syracuse: Christmas is a Philly native and played for Academy of the New Church. … The Orange have four nonconference losses for just the second time in Boeheim’s tenure, and he’s in his 39th season.

Villanova: The Wildcats trailed at halftime for the third time this season. They had not allowed more than 30 points in the first half this season. … Hart left the game in the first half with a bloody nose and returned wearing a nameless No. 44 jersey instead of No. 3. He had gauze stuffed inside his nostrils. He made all three shots in the first half and scored 11 points. … Villanova missed 7 of 8 3s in the first half.

UP NEXT

Syracuse hosts Colgate on Monday.

Villanova hosts NJIT on Tuesday.

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