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Twice as Nice: Wildcats Knock Off Second Top Five Foe in a Week
James Bell

Jan. 26, 2013

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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Ryan Arcidiacono drained a 3-point goal with 2.2 seconds left to lift Villanova into a 61-61 tie with No. 3 Syracuse and the Wildcats went on to post a 75-71 victory over the Orange in a BIG EAST game played today before 18,273 at the Wells Fargo Center.

For the first time in program history, Villanova upended two top five programs in the span of one week of the regular season. On Tuesday, the Wildcats knocked off No. 5 Louisville 73-64 in a game also played here at the Center.

"What a week for us," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "We played really well but you can just see why Syracuse is a team that can win a national championship. They just keep coming and keep coming - they made so many adjustments. It's why Jim Boeheim is a Hall of Fame coach.

"The threes were big for us in overtime and the last one in regulation was obviously huge. The job done by Mouphtaou Yarou to get the offensive rebound so that he could get the ball out to Arch there was a great play."

The Wildcats are now 13-7 overall, 4-3 BIG EAST while the Orange had an eight game winning streak snapped and fell to 18-2 overall, 6-1 BIG EAST. Syracuse's two losses this season have to come members of Philadelphia Big Five, with Temple having upset the Orange at Madison Square Garden in December.

Darrun Hilliard notched a career high with 25 points to go with seven rebounds, six assists and zero turnovers. Yarou recorded a double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds, the latter number which tied a career-best established against UCLA in 2010. James Bell finished with 13 points, including two huge 3-point goals in the extra session.

Villanova brought the early energy in this 11 a.m. start. Hilliard opened the scoring 28 seconds into the contest with a runner in the lane and later followed that with a three banked in off the glass. When Bell drained a 3-pointer from the corner, Villanova held a 10-0 lead with 17:03 on the first half clock.

Syracuse responded with a 7-0 run before Hilliard dropped in his second triple of the day to make it 13-7. The Wildcats lead grew to 25-13 with just over seven minutes to play in the first half - 13 of those points were supplied by Hilliard.

However, Syracuse again jumped right back with an 8-0 run that shaved the margin to 25-21 after a pair of Michael Carter-Williams free throws with 3:30 to go in the first half. Rakeem Christmas had seven of the Orange's first 21 points. A tough lay-in by Mouphtaou Yarou stopped the Orange run and made it 27-21.

Jerami Grant scored the first four points after intermission to draw the Orange to within 32-30 with 19:10 to play. Grant then dropped in a 3-pointer from the wing to give Syracuse its first lead of the day at 33-32 early in the period.

The Orange, with Carter-Williams leading the way used an 8-0 run to build a 44-39 edge midway through the half. But the Wildcats kept battling, which was never more evident than when Bell crashed over the scorer's table to save a ball to Arcidicano midway through the period. After Hilliard sank two free throws with 8:01 left, VU had regained a 49-47 lead.

The game was tied at 53 with just under six minutes to play when another Syracuse burst proved decisive. The key shot in the sequence was a Triche triple with 4:22 remaining that gave the Orange a 57-53 lead. Not long after that it became 59-53 as the game approached the four minute mark in the second half.

After Yarou sank two free throws, C.J. Fair capped a long Syracuse possession with a short jumper to push the advantage back to six at 61-55 with three minutes to play.

Yet the Wildcats' grit was evident down the stretch. VU got three looks at a game-tying three and Aricdiacono converted the last one from the corner with 2.2 seconds left to deadlock the game at 61, forcing overtime.

In the extra period Bell scored eight points to key a Wildcat attack that outscored the Orange 14-10. It resulted in a 75-71 victory.

"We still have to get to a consistency level as a team," noted Wright, "but this is how you start it. This is something for this group to point to as its own success, not something that was done by an earlier team. I am most happy for them."