Donte DiVincenzo scored a career-high 30 points, Jalen Brunson added 27 and No. 1 Villanova responded from a four-point loss to St. John’s earlier in the week with an 86-75 victory over Butler Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Omari Spellman contributed 10 points and 11 rebounds while Mikal Bridges had 10 points for the Wildcats, who improved to 23-2 overall and 10-2 in the Big East. They fell 79-75 to the Red Storm on Wednesday. Villanova hasn’t lost back-to-back games in five years.
Villanova played for the second straight game without starting forward Eric Paschall (concussion) and guard Phil Booth, who’s out indefinitely with a fractured bone in his right hand.
Kelan Martin hit eight 3-pointers and led Butler with 30 points while Kamar Baldwin added 25.
The Bulldogs dropped to 17-9 overall and 7-6 in the league. They had won the previous three meetings against Villanova.
The Wildcats began the second half on an 11-2 run to go ahead 46-40. Brunson and DiVincenzo recorded consecutive drives to the basket to put Villanova ahead by six.
Villanova continued with its relentless defensive pressure and DiVincenzo kept producing with a 3-pointer to give it a 58-49 lead midway through the second.
Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree scored off an offensive rebound and the Wildcats built their largest lead at 66-55 with 7:25 remaining.
Baldwin hit a pair of free throws and Butler eventually got within 68-64 with 5:20 left.
The Wildcats responded as Bridges made a big play with a steal and a drive for a one-handed dunk and a 73-64 advantage with 4:03 remaining.
Butler closed within four points late but DiVincenzo knocked down a clutch jumper to help secure the win.
Butler bolted to a 21-8 lead and maintained a 38-35 advantage at halftime.
Just like the Bulldogs accomplished in their 101-93 win over Villanova on Dec. 30, they shot a high percentage from beyond the arc once again. In that eight-point victory, Butler was 15 of 22 from 3-point territory.
Martin led the way with a 5-for-6 performance and Butler was 7 of 13 overall in the first half. Martin led all scorers with 17 points in the first half.
—Field Level Media