No. 14 Villanova Defeats No. 11 Rutgers, 70-49


NEW YORK -- Maalik Wayns scored 28 points and Villanova pulled away to a 70-49 victory over Rutgers on Tuesday night in the opening round of the Big East tournament.

Wayns continued his strong play since missing three games with a sprained MCL in his left knee. He returned for the final two games of the regular season and averaged 22 points and 6.5 assists. He had four assists for the 14th-seeded Wildcats (13-18) on Tuesday as they advanced to face sixth-seeded South Florida in the second round on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

The Wildcats had lost their first game in the last two Big East tournaments.

Freshman Eli Carter had 23 points for the 11th-seeded Scarlet Knights (14-18), who lost 77-71 to Villanova on Feb. 28.

Rutgers made five 3-pointers in as many attempts and added a traditional three-point play in an 18-2 run that gave the Scarlet Knights a 34-26 lead with 2 minutes left in the first half. The Wildcats scored the last four points of the half to get within 34-30 and then opened the second half on a 12-2 run to go up 42-36 with 14:43 to play.

Villanova, which had lost five of its last six and eight of 10, made it a rout by holding Rutgers to one field goal over the final 8 minutes. Wayns, who was 13 of 14 from the free throw line, scored eight points over the final 4:13.

The Wildcats outscored Rutgers 40-15 in the second half, holding the Scarlet Knights to 3-of-25 shooting from the field. Rutgers was 16 of 55 for the game (29.1 percent).

Villanova shot 45.8 percent (22 of 48) and finished with a 43-29 rebound advantage, with Mouphtaou Yarou grabbing 12 to go with 13 points.

Mack started the 3-point barrage for the Scarlet Knights, Miller hit one and then Carter made three straight before Miller was fouled on a putback and added the free throw. Rutgers was 7 of 11 on 3s in the half but was just 6 of 19 on 2-point shots.

Rutgers, which had won two of three after six straight losses, was 1 of 7 from beyond the arc in the second half

Villanova leads the all-time series with Rutgers 28-9 and has won five of the last six meetings.