VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — Josh Hart scored 25 points and Jalen Brunson added 13 as No. 1 Villanova barely held off DePaul, 68-65 on Wednesday night, the Wildcats’ 19th straight win.
The Wildcats (13-0, 1-0 Big East) looked rather pedestrian playing for the first time in a week. But thanks to Hart, considered among the favorites for national player of the year, they survived.
A 14-6 Villanova run gave the Wildcats a 51-39 lead with 16:41 to go. But the Blue Demons responded with a 14-0 run to get back in the game and take a 53-51 lead.
From there Hart made sure the Wildcats remained undefeated and their home winning streak reached 44 games.
The senior swingman scored 10 points in the final 3:06, including a dagger 3-pointer from the top of the key with 9.5 seconds left that gave Villanova a 66-62 lead.
Billy Garrett Jr. missed a clean look for a tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Tre’Darius McCallum had 19 points for the Blue Demons (7-7, 0-1) while Garrett added 17 and Eli Cain had 14.
DePaul: In easily their best showing to date, the Blue Demons will carry some confidence into 2017 and the rest of their Big East schedule.
Villanova: The Wildcats finished their non-conference slate unscathed and passed their first Big East test. Now their attention will be focused on two tough road games as they dig into their conference schedule.
DePaul is off until New Year’s Day, when the Blue Demons host Big East foe St. John’s.
Villanova faces its toughest test so far this season Saturday afternoon in Omaha, Nebraska, where the Wildcats have a Big East showdown with No. 10 Creighton.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.