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NCAAB: No. 14 Villanova squeaks past No. 17 Xavier 64-60

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Collin Gillespie scored 21 points to lift No. 14 Villanova past host Xavier 64-60 Wednesday in Cincinnati.

Justin Moore had 19 points and nine rebounds while Eric Dixon added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats (12-4, 5-1 Big East), who won their fifth in a row.

Paul Scruggs and Nate Johnson led No. 17 Xavier (12-3, 2-2) with 15 points each. Colby Jones gathered 10 rebounds for the Musketeers, who lost at home for the first time in 10 games.

After a slow start by both teams, Villanova pulled ahead slightly 13-8 after Moore dropped in a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 12:00 remaining in the first half. Dixon scored on consecutive possessions in the low post for a 21-13 Wildcats advantage with 8:51 left.

Jerome Hunter hit 2 of 3 shots to keep the Musketeers close, but they missed 12 of their first 16 shots, including several layups. Gillespie soon came back with a 3-pointer from the corner and a long jumper for a 28-17 lead.

Two free throws each by Dixon and Caleb Daniels along with a jumper by Jordan Longino and the Wildcats extended to a 17-point advantage.

Villanova led 38-27 at halftime, thanks in large part to Gillespie’s 14 points. Johnson paced Xavier with eight points. The Musketeers shot just 7 of 25 in the first half.

The Musketeers closed within nine early in the second half, but Gillespie responded with a 3-pointer for a 43-31 advantage. Scruggs then drove to the basket and hit a difficult layup to cut the deficit to 10.

Xavier tightened defensively and sliced Villanova’s lead to 45-38 after Johnson knocked down a 3-pointer with 14:11 to go.

Villanova maintained a steady lead, 54-47, with 6:17 remaining. But Scruggs made a 3-pointer with 4:59 remaining and Xavier trailed 54-50.

After a turnover by Villanova, Jack Nunge grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to cap a 10-0 run and close within two.

Scruggs’ 3-pointer with 2:17 left tied the game at 56. On Villanova’s next possession, Moore converted a three-point play to go back ahead by three.

–Field Level Media

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