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Villanova hands No. 16 Xavier first home loss in Big East play


Justin Moore scored a game-high 25 points to lead Villanova to a 64-63 upset over No. 16 Xavier in Big East play Tuesday night in Cincinnati.

Villanova (14-14, 8-9 Big East), in the midst of its most difficult stretch of the Big East schedule, rebounded from a loss at then-No. 24 Providence Saturday to record its most impressive win. Xavier suffered just its second home loss of the season and its first in Big East play this season.

Souley Boum had 17 points, Jerome Hunter scored 14 and Jack Nunge had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Xavier (20-8, 12-5), which lost for the third time in four games. Xavier had leads of 31-18 in the first half and 40-30 in the second half but couldn't protect them.

Zach Freemantle, who scored 29 points in Xavier's 88-80 win on Jan. 7 at Villanova, missed his sixth straight game with a left foot injury.

Adam Kunkel (10 points) appeared to tie the game with a layup with 2:35 left but was called for traveling. Moore responded with a 3-pointer with 2:13 left for a 64-59 Villanova lead.

Villanova committed two traveling turnovers and Xavier had a chance to win as Boum drove the lane for a layup but was denied at the basket.

Villanova appeared to have captured momentum heading into halftime when Jordan Longino drove to the basket for a layup with 12 seconds remaining in the half. With Villanova applying pressure and the clock winding down, Boum was struggling to get enough space to get a shot off.

He eventually stepped back to just inside the midcourt line and drained a 3-pointer as time expired to give Xavier a 36-30 lead heading to the locker room. The triple gave Boum 12 points at the break to go along with four rebounds.

Xavier scored the first four points after halftime for a 40-30 lead, resulting in a Villanova timeout just 1:47 into the half.

But mirroring their second half at Providence just three days earlier, the Wildcats managed a rally with a 9-2 run. Villanova had three straight possessions to draw closer or tie the game but missed a layup and a 3-pointer before having a jumper blocked.

With the shot clock running down, Moore gave Villanova a 52-50 lead with a layup with 8:45 remaining. Eric Dixon followed with a layup on the next possession to build the lead to four.

Cam Whitmore finished with 11 points for the Wildcats.

Desmond Claude returned from a two-game absence and scored six points off the Xavier bench.

The Wildcats, a longshot for NCAA Tournament consideration after reaching the Final Four last year, host Creighton on Saturday, play at Seton Hall on Feb. 28 and finish the regular season at home versus UConn March 4.

--Field Level Media

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Field Level Media was founded by sports media executives with more than 40 years of combined experience working with the most influential media companies in the industry.

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