- Associated Press - Monday, February 3, 2014

VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) - Xavier can pin a losing streak right on its second-half woes.

“We’re getting our (rears) kicked in the second half,” coach Chris Mack.

The Musketeers had another long 20 minutes - and another loss.

James Bell hit six 3-pointers and scored 27 points and Darrun Hilliard had 17 to lead No. 6 Villanova to an 81-58 win over Xavier on Monday night.

Semaj Christon led Xavier (15-7, 5-4) with 17 points and Matt Stainbrook had 14. The Musketeers have lost three straight.

“It was Villanova’s night, especially in the second half,” Mack said. “We were a step slow in all three of those losses. We’ve got to be a better second-half team.”

With Xavier slumping from the floor, the Musketeers tried to get physical.

Christon shoved Daniel Ochefu after on Xavier possession, then trash talked his way off the court after nailing a 3 that pulled Xavier to 57-45.

Villanova coach Wright’s call for a technical was ignored by the refs. Christon’s conduct wasn’t forgotten by the fans, who booed him each time he touched the ball the rest of the game.

Bell pulled Ochefu aside to ease rising tensions. Bell put the focus back on basketball, hitting consecutive 3s from the same corner spot for a 65-50 lead, and the rout was on.

“He takes responsibility off the court. He takes responsibility on the court,” Wright said. “There are times I can just go at him and I don’t have to go crazy on anybody else. He just gets it done on the team.”

Wright matched Rollie Massimino, who led Villanova to the 1985 national championship, with nine 20-win seasons.

The Wildcats (20-2, 8-1 Big East) never trailed and have won four straight games since a 28-point loss to No. 12 Creighton on Jan. 20.

Bell made 6 of 10 3s, was 10 of 14 overall from the floor and grabbed eight rebounds. He scored 21 points in the second half to the Wildcats hit the 20-win mark at the second fastest point in program history. The 2009-10 team opened 20-1.

“Everything’s pretty much on me, good or bad,” Bell said. “I think they respect me for it and that makes us a better team.”

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