Villanova defeated a team ranked in the top five in the nation for the second straight game, after also beating No. 5 Louisville five days earlier. This is only the second time in school history that the Wildcats have won consecutive games against top five opponents, with the other occasion being the team's national semifinal and national championship game in 1985 against No. 5 Memphis (March 30, 1985) and No. 1 Georgetown (April 1, 1985).
Prior to the top "top five" wins this week it had been exactly two years since Villanova had beaten any ranked team. Overall this season the Wildcats are 2-1 versus ranked opponents, with the loss coming to then-No. 6 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome on January 12.
Villanova is 4-1 (.800) all-time at the Wells Fargo Center against opponents that are ranked in the top five in the nation. That includes this week's two victories, as well as wins against No. 2 Kansas (January 22, 2005) and No. 1 Connecticut (February 13, 2006). The only loss came to No. 1 Syracuse on January 11, 2012.
Under head coach Jay Wright the Wildcats own a record of 10-11 (.476) against teams ranked in the top five in the nation. The 10 victories include one win over a No. 1 team, one win over a No. 2 team, four wins over a No. 3 team, one win over a No. 4 team and three wins over a No. 5 team.
Prior to today's victory against Syracuse the Wildcats had beaten the No. 3 team in the country on 12 previous occasions, including three times under Jay Wright. The previous times that Villanova beat a No. 3 ranked opponent under Wright were on January 22, 2011 at Syracuse; January 28, 2009 against Pittsburgh at the Spectrum; and against No. 3 Boston College on February 22, 2005 at the Pavilion.
Villanova is 35-32 (.522) all-time at the Wells Fargo Center, including 2-0 this season. The Wildcats return to the building one more time this season when they host Georgetown on Wednesday, March 6.
Of the 67 games that the Wildcats have played at Wells Fargo Center over the years, a total of 38 (57%) have been decided by single digits, including 27 games which have been decided by five or fewer points. Villanova has a record of 17-21 (.447) in games decided by single digits, including an 11-16 (.407) mark in games decided by five or fewer points.
Villanova is 14-19 (.424) all-time against nationally-ranked opponents at Wells Fargo Center, including the two victories there this week.
Today's attendance of 18,273 at Wells Fargo Center is the largest crowd to see the Wildcats play in the building since there was an attendance of 18,899 on February 21, 2011. That game also featured a Villanova-Syracuse matchup.
Despite committing 14 turnovers in the win over Syracuse the Wildcats had just one miscue in the final 14 minutes of play. That stretch included the final nine minutes of regulation as well as the five-minute overtime period.
Villanova has held the lead at halftime in 18 of its 20 games this season, including a streak of 15 consecutive games taking a lead into the intermission. The Wildcats are 13-5 this season when leading at halftime, compared to 0-2 when trailing at the break.
Sophomore shooting guard Darrun Hilliard had career highs of 25 points, seven rebounds and six assists in today's win, while senior center Mouphtaou Yarou tied a career high with 16 rebounds.
Mouphtaou Yarou had eight offensive rebounds in today's game and Villanova as a team had 18 offensive rebounds. The eight caroms by Yarou on the offensive end were turned into nine points by the Wildcats, none more important than the game-tying three pointer that freshman point guard Ryan Arcidiacono made with two seconds left in regulation.
Mouphtaou Yarou registered his third double-double of the season (points-rebounds). All three have come in a span of the last six games.
For the last 29:22 of the game the two teams were never separated by more than six points. That stretch included the final 4:22 of the first half and the entire second half and overtime period.
Villanova scored the final six points of regulation to force overtime with the score tied at 61-61. Syracuse had gone ahead, 61-55, on a jumper by C.J. Fair with 3:36 left in regulation. In overtime the Wildcats took the lead for good on a three-pointer by junior forward James Bell with 2:43 to play.