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Villanova upsets Syracuse in OT

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- As if beating one team ranked in the top five in a week wasn't enough for Villanova, it took down Syracuse at the Wells Fargo Center, 75-71 in overtime Saturday.

Syracuse is tied for third in the AP poll and No. 4 in the USA Today coaches poll.

James Bell scored eight points in the overtime period to lead Villanova to its second straight upset. He had just five points in regulation, but made all three of his shots in the extra 5 minutes to finish with 13.

"He's got amazing guts," Villanova coach Jay Wright said of Bell. "That's how you win big time games, when you have guys like that that have great character and great guys."

Freshman Ryan Arcidiacono hit a 3 from the corner to tie the game 61-61 with just seconds remaining to send the game to overtime. He had just 10 points on the day, with none bigger than the shot to send it to overtime.

"I did a little shot fake and put it up. It luckily went in," Arcidiacono said.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said of the final possession of regulation: "With such a small lineup, I was worried about fouling with 13, 12 seconds on it because I think that we were going to have trouble getting the rebound. I thought we defended it well, didn't get the rebound, and it's always a danger being able to throw that out there to get that open look. That's what they got, and they made it, to their credit."

Syracuse was led by senior Brandon Triche, who had 23 points for the Orange. He was joined by Michael Carter-Williams, who had 17 points, four of which came in overtime. The sophomore created matchup problems toward the end of the game.

"Earlier in the half, we extended out defense a little bit just within the half court, and that's when Carter-Williams started ripping us down the lane," Wright said. "We were so concerned with him, it opened the floor up."

Darrun Hilliard was the catalyst on offense for Villanova in regulation. The 6-foot-6 guard came into the game struggling, and averaging just 10 points a game, but went off for a career-high 25 points on 8-for-11 shooting. He was joined in double digits by Mouphtaou Yarou, who had a double-double of 14 points and 16 rebounds.

"There were a couple of things that I had to work on with turnovers, and my shot falling," Hilliard said. "As long as I was playing team defense and playing hard, everything was fine. If my offense came, it came."

Syracuse took its first lead of the day with 19:15 remaining in regulation on a Jerami Grant shot from beyond the arc. The freshman opened the second half on his own 7-0 run to give the Orange a 33-32 lead. Grant, who had 12 points and five rebounds on the day, fouled out with 5:22 remaining in the second half.

Villanova started the game on a 10-0 run, with the first seven points coming from the sophomore Hilliard. Villanova pushed its lead to as big as 25-13 with 7:38 left in the first half. The 12-point deficit was the largest of the year for Syracuse. The Orange chipped its way back to close out the half down just 32-26.

Hilliard led all scorers at halftime with 15 points. Yarou was the next leading scorer for Villanova with six points and six rebounds in the first 20 minutes. The Wildcats shot 46.4 percent from the field in the first half, contributing to their halftime lead.

Syracuse had a slow start to the game. It shot just 29 percent (9 for 31) from the field, including just 1 for 5 from beyond the arc. Philadelphia native Rakeem Christmas led the Orange scoring-wise in the first half with seven points and pulled down three rebounds. He finished the day with nine points and eight rebounds.

Notes: Syracuse had won 28 of its last 29 Big East conference games, the best 29-game stretch in league history before the loss. ... Syracuse forward James Southerland did not make the trip to Philadelphia. He sat out his fourth straight game due to an eligibility issue. ... With its 32-26 lead at halftime, Villanova has led at the half in its last 14 games (10-4).
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