- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 26, 2014

VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) - Butler kept its beloved mascot, Blue III, home.

The Bulldogs seemed to leave their offense behind, as well.

Darrun Hilliard and James Bell scored 11 points each to lead No. 8 Villanova to a 67-48 victory over Butler on Wednesday night.

The Wildcats (25-3, 13-2 Big East) survived one of their worst 20 minutes of the season to win for the ninth time in 10 games.


They needed almost the first 10 minutes of the game to score 10 points, missed eight of their first nine 3-point attempts, and didn’t have a player reach double digits in scoring until midway through the second half.

Villanova put up the kind of numbers that usually lead to a loss.

Not against the lowly Bulldogs (12-16, 2-14).

Butler was even worse, scoring a season low in points, and the Bulldogs lost their seventh straight game.

“When we did get an open look, we didn’t make enough of those in order to get a little confidence and get it going,” Butler coach Brandon Miller said. “I don’t know if it’s been one thing or two things, but it seems like it’s a different thing every night where we don’t execute well enough.”

The Wildcats had a small hot streak at the end of the first half, making 5 of 6 shots, to build enough of a cushion and slowly pull away.

The Wildcats fell shy of their 79.9 points per game average and played for about 35 minutes looking nothing like the team that has become one of the best in the Big East.

Each team took turns trading clunkers and clangers in the first 10 minutes, one reason the Wildcats only led 10-4. With 6 minutes left in the half, the Bulldogs and Wildcats combined for only 26 points. And no, Bo Ryan wasn’t coaching either of the teams.

The Pavilion had all the atmosphere of an art museum on a sleepy Sunday morning, making this one feel more like a bad NBA preseason game than the final on-campus home game of the season. Villanova coach Jay Wright did let senior reserves Nick McMahon and Tony Chennault start - though McMahon played only 20 seconds before he was benched for Ryan Arcidiacono.

McMahon couldn’t have been worse than the rest of the offense.

Villanova missed 12 of its first 15 shots, most from 3-point range. The Wildcats were determined to keep shooting 3s until they fell. Bell and Arcidiacono did hit two straight near the end of the first half for a 28-15 lead.

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