CINCINNATI (AP) — When Xavier's Trevon Bluiett limped off the court, a matchup of the Big East's top scorers turned into another workmanlike win for No. 2 Villanova. Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo scored 17 points apiece in a balanced offense on Saturday, leading the Wildcats to a 73-57 victory after No. 24 Xavier lost its leading scorer.
CINCINNATI (AP) — When Xavier's Trevon Bluiett limped off the court, a matchup of the Big East's top scorers turned into another workmanlike win for No. 2 Villanova.
Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo scored 17 points apiece in a balanced offense on Saturday, leading the Wildcats to a 73-57 victory after No. 24 Xavier lost its leading scorer.
Villanova (24-2, 11-2 Big East) led most of the way at the Cintas Center, where the Wildcats suffered one of their five losses last season on the way to a national championship. The arena was rocking when the game started, but Villanova took control as soon as Bluiett got hurt.
"We just focus on sticking together and controlling what we can control," said Villanova's Kris Jenkins, who had 12 points. "Nothing can rattle us as long as we do that."
Xavier (18-7, 8-4) was already missing point guard Edmond Sumner to a torn ACL. Bluiett, who is second to Villanova's Josh Hart for the Big East lead in scoring, aggravated his sprained right ankle midway through the first half and had to be helped off the court. Hart finished with 11 points.
Bluiett got his right ankle re-taped and returned to the game, but he was in pain and had trouble moving. After 2 ineffective minutes to start the second half, he went to the bench. The junior failed to score for the first time in his career after scoring at least 20 points in five of the last six games.
"We felt like 70 percent or 60 percent of Trevon wasn't going to be effective," coach Chris Mack said. "I don't want to put a guy out there who feels he's playing on one leg."
Xavier led 12-11 when Bluiett got hurt. Villanova responded with an 11-0 run — Jenkins hit two 3s — and the Wildcats didn't trail again. RaShid Gaston led the Musketeers with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
"This league is becoming a war of attrition, man," coach Jay Wright said. "Everybody's losing players. I feel bad for Chris with Sumner out and now Trevon getting hurt in the first half. That had a big impact on the game."
Villanova: Senior forward Darryl Reynolds sat out with a rib injury that has left him day-to-day. He had started every game. Freshman forward Tim Delaney had hip surgery on Wednesday and is out indefinitely. He's been limited to seven games.
Xavier: The injury to Bluiett leaves the Musketeers not only at a huge disadvantage on offense but with little depth as well. Freshman point guard Quentin Goodin played a career-high 40 minutes on Saturday and was 1 for 14 from the field for three points.
"Obviously we miss them and we definitely need them," guard Malcolm Bernard said of Xavier's two injured stars. "I don't know. We've just got to find a way to get through that."
The Wildcats keep themselves in position to move back up to No. 1 if Gonzaga loses for the first time. The Musketeers will likely drop out given the loss of not only a game but their leading scorer.
500 FOR WRIGHT
Wright got his 500th coaching victory, with the first 122 at Hofstra. He said there was no special significance to the number.
"I always feel blessed," he said.
The Wildcats have given the Musketeers their two most lopsided losses this season, also winning 79-54 on Jan. 10. Villanova is 24-5 all-time in the series.
The Wildcats play at DePaul on Monday, the second of three straight road games. They struggled to beat DePaul at home during a 68-65 win on Dec. 28.
The Musketeers play at Providence on Wednesday, the first of three straight road games. They beat Providence 82-56 at the Cintas Center on Dec. 28.
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