VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — Ryan Arcidiacono, JayVaughn Pinkston and Darrun Hilliard scored 14 points each to lead Villanova to a 71-63 victory over Rutgers on Monday night.

The win keeps alive the chance for an NCAA at-large bid for Villanova (17-10, 8-6 Big East), which has won four of its last five. The Wildcats overcame a poor first half and a 12-point second-half deficit.

"I thought we were tentative," Villanova coach Jay Wright said of the first half. "I thought we had to just go out and play. I wasn't angry. Everybody was afraid to be the one to make the mistake instead of being aggressive. I thought they responded in the second half."

Myles Mack had a game-high 24 points for Rutgers (13-12, 4-10), which has lost eight of its last nine games.

"They got us on our heels and kept us on our heels," Rutgers coach Mike Rice said. "We have to be smarter and stronger with the basketball. That's what it is. You're in the Big East."

Rutgers played without leading scorer Eli Carter, who fractured his right fibula in Saturday's loss at DePaul. Carter, who averaged 14.9 points per game, will miss the rest of the season.

Mouphtaou Yarou had 12 rebounds and 10 points for Villanova, which had five players score in double figures. James Bell added 11 points.

Rutgers matched its biggest lead of the game on Mack's jumper early in the second half that made it 33-21. But Villanova tallied 23 of the next 33 points to go ahead 44-43 with 11:22 left.

Rutgers reclaimed the lead on Austin Johnson's follow that made it 45-44 with 11:05 remaining, but Bell hit a pair of 3-pointers, sandwiched around a layup by Mack, to put the Wildcats back up, 50-47.

"I wasn't worried about missing shots," Bell said. "I wasn't worried about the outcome. Shooters have to shoot and I have to take my shots. I don't come into the games worried about scoring. I come into the game worried about what we have to do as a team."

Bell said the Wildcats weren't concerned, even though they were playing from behind.

"We know nobody is going to give up," he said. "We have each other's back. The fact we're never going to give up is all we need."

Villanova never relinquished the lead again.

The Scarlet Knights hung close, getting within one point on three occasions, but Villanova slowly pulled away. Bell gave the Wildcats some breathing room with 2:45 to play when his 3-pointer put Villanova ahead 65-58.

"We really struggled in the first half," Wright said. "We came out and gutted it out. This game is going to help us a lot."

Nothing came easy in the first half for Villanova.

Villanova led 14-8 after Hilliard's jumper with 12:23 left until halftime, but the Wildcats went ice cold from the floor from that point. They went without a field goal for the next 10:18 until a layup by Pinkston with 2:05 remaining.

Rutgers took advantage, outscoring the Wildcats 23-7 from the 12:23 mark to take a 31-21 lead at the half.

Mack, who scored 12 straight Scarlet Knights points in one stretch, had 16 points at the break.

"He's just a really tough cover," Wright said of Mack. "He's hard to guard one-on-one. He has a great knack around the basket. He's a nightmare to defend."

The Wildcats finished the half shooting 30 percent (6 of 20), including 2 of 10 behind the arc and 7 of 14 from the free-throw line.