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Collin Gillespie snagged the final rebound and hugged the ball as a couple of St. John’s players took some last-gasp swipes at knocking it loose. Like Gillespie, Villanova might be tightening its grip as the team to beat in the Big East.
St. John’s head coach Chris Mullin stripped his suit down to a white T-shirt at his news conference and conceded the path to a Big East title goes through the national champions.
“The way they play. The way they win,” he said. “They have a championship pedigree.”
Phil Booth has two national title rings and continued his reign as king of the clutch shot for the Wildcats. He hit a go-ahead three-pointer late in the game and scored 23 points to help host Villanova rally to beat the 24th-ranked Red Storm 76-71 on Tuesday night.
“I don’t think about taking over the game,” Booth said. “I think about trying to make the right play.”
Booth hit six three-pointers and scored 10 points in the final seven minutes. Eric Paschall scored 25 points for the Wildcats (12-4, 3-0 Big East), who have four nonconference losses.
St. John’s led by 13 in the first half and by 11 early in the second before a three-point-happy offense went cold.
#1 Duke 87, Wake Forest 65: Freshman Zion Williamson scored a season-high 30 points with 10 rebounds, and the Blue Devils (13-0, 2-0 ACC) won their first road game of the season. RJ Barrett finished with 21 points and matched a season high with seven assists.
#3 Tennessee 87, Missouri 63: Kyle Alexander had 14 points and a career-high 17 rebounds as the visiting Volunteers (13-1, 2-0) got their second straight blowout victory in SEC play.
#6 Michigan State 77, Purdue 59: Cassius Winston shook off a slow start and finished with 23 points to help the host Spartans (14-2, 5-0 Big Ten) win their ninth straight game. The Boilermakers (9-6, 2-2) had won their previous three games by a combined total of 55 points.
#8 Texas Tech 66, #23 Oklahoma 59: Jarrett Culver had his first double-double of the season with 23 points and 13 rebounds, scoring seven straight points to break a tie late in the second half and leading his hometown Red Raiders (14-1, 3-0 Big 12) in Lubbock, Texas.
#12 North Carolina 90, #15 N.C. State 82: Luke Maye scored 21 points to help the visiting Tar Heels (12-3, 3-0 ACC) hold off their in-state rivals. Braxton Beverly scored 21 points to lead the Wolfpack (13-2, 1-1), who had won seven straight games.
South Carolina 87, #14 Mississippi State 82: Freshman A.J. Lawson stole the ball and finished with an emphatic dunk with 13 seconds left in overtime to seal the upset for the host Gamecocks (7-7, 2-0 SEC).
#18 Kentucky 85, Texas A&M 74: Tyler Herro had 21 points and the host Wildcats (11-3, 1-1 SEC) overcame a 10-0 deficit, then held off the Aggies.
#19 Buffalo 110, Toledo 80: Jeremy Harris scored a career-best 34 points in leading the host Bulls (14-1, 2-0 MAC) to a rout of the Rockets.
Baylor 73, #20 Iowa State 70: In Waco, Texas, Makai Mason scored 25 points, including five free throws in the final 38 seconds, as the Bears (9-5, 1-1 Big 12) prevailed. The Cyclones (12-3, 2-1) were coming off a 17-point home win over then-No. 5 Kansas.
Transfer: Ex-USC forward Jordan Usher transferred to Georgia Tech and will be eligible for spring semester.
#9 Maryland 81, Nebraska 63: Kaila Charles scored 19 points, eight coming when the visiting Terrapins (14-1, 3-1 Big Ten) broke it open in the third quarter, and head coach Brenda Frese got her 500th career win.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/collegesports/article/Villanova-re-establishes-itself-atop-Big-East-13519424.php.