Hart leads Villanova past Hoyas 81-67 in Big East quarters
NEW YORK (AP) Villanova star Josh Hart is so fearless that he'll declare from the depths of Madison Square Garden: ''I hate New York.''
The junior guard does love the Big East Tournament. The most outstanding player here a year ago, he opened the 2016 edition with 25 points Thursday as the third-ranked Wildcats pulled away from Georgetown in the second half.
Ryan Arcidiacono had 19 points and six assists and Kris Jenkins added 15 points, as Villanova began its bid for consecutive tourney titles with an 81-67 quarterfinal win. The top-seeded Wildcats (28-4) made 13 of their 21 3-point attempts.
The eighth-seeded Hoyas (15-18), whose first-round game ended about 15 hours earlier, led 47-46 midway through the second half before Arcidiacono and Hart led Villanova on a game-breaking 14-1 run.
Georgetown had 16 offensive rebounds to just four for the Wildcats but converted them into only 12 second-chance points. Villanova, meanwhile, took full advantage of the Hoyas' mistakes, turning 11 turnovers into 20 points.
''Between Ryan and Kris Jenkins, every time we missed a bunny, they made us pay,'' Georgetown coach John Thompson III said.
Villanova had been 0-5 against the Hoyas at the Big East Tournament.
L.J. Peak led Georgetown with 18 points.
The Wildcats meet fourth-seeded Providence in Friday's semifinals.
With his team down a point with just over 10 minutes left, Hart knifed through the defense for a layup that put Villanova ahead for good. Arcidiacono hit two 3-pointers then dished to Hart in transition off a steal for a three-point play that made it 60-48 with 7 1/2 minutes remaining.
Villanova big man Daniel Ochefu, playing on a sprained ankle, had no points and no rebounds in 13 minutes. But the taller Hoyas weren't able to take advantage enough inside. Center Bradley Hayes, who returned Wednesday night with 10 points after missing six games with a broken left hand, wasn't able to get many touches other than one stretch at the start of the second half.
Neither team scored for nearly five minutes late in the first half before Jenkins hit a 3-pointer with 8 seconds remaining to give Villanova a 28-27 lead at the break.
''We were struggling finishing at the rim,'' coach Jay Wright said. ''And you know, that's why we shoot 3s. We have the balance where we can shoot them, and there's going to be some nights you can't finish at the rim and you have to rely on them. You can lose that way, but it gives you a hell of a chance to win. Thank God for the 3s tonight.''
There were just eight fouls called and no free throws shot in the first half, with the referees allowing physical play more reminiscent of a 1980s Big East game. It was a complete reversal from the tournament's previous game that ended about 12 hours earlier, when Marquette and St. John's combined for 53 fouls and 66 free throws Wednesday night.
There were 27 fouls and 37 free throws in the second half Thursday, though many of those came when Georgetown was playing catch-up.
Ochefu, who came in averaging 10.3 points and 8.1 rebounds, didn't practice Wednesday, and Wright said he tweaked the ankle Thursday.
''He gave us everything he got,'' Wright said. ''We have to try to rest him up and see if we can get him feeling better tomorrow.''
Georgetown: Leading scorer D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera was poked in the eye late in the first half. He returned after about three minutes, with the Hoyas failing to score in his absence. The senior finished with eight points on 4-of-11 shooting, missing all four 3-point tries, in what could be his final game. ... Hayes, a fellow senior, had 13 points and nine rebounds. Thompson said he was unsure whether Georgetown would play in a postseason tournament.
Villanova: Arcidiacono twice went diving into the stands, once in each half. ... Darryl Reynolds had four blocks and three steals off the bench in place of Ochefu.
Villanova plays fourth-seeded Providence in Friday's semifinals.
Georgetown's season likely ends with a 15-18 record.