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Friday, November 16, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Villanova 89, Purdue 81

By Kieran Darcy

What it means: Villanova is off to a strong start, and perhaps capable of exceeding expectations this season. Purdue's players and coaching staff, on the other hand, will not sleep well Thursday night.

The Wildcats improved to 3-0 on the young season, courtesy of an 89-81 overtime win over the Boilermakers in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Classic, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Purdue, on the other hand, drops to 1-2 on the year after also losing its season opener at home to Bucknell.

The skinny: Villanova led by as many as seven points in the first half, at 20-13. Purdue cut it to two late, 31-29, but Villanova scored the final four points of the half to take a 35-29 lead into the locker room.

The second half was a different story. After trailing by as many as 10, Purdue went on a tear, going in front by eight, 61-53. The Boilermakers maintained the lead until the final minute of regulation, when Villanova found a way to push the game to OT.

With the Wildcats trailing 75-71 with 43.8 seconds left, Purdue swingman D.J. Byrd was called for a flagrant foul on Villanova guard Darrun Hilliard. Hilliard sank the two free throws, Villanova retained possession, and guard Ryan Arcidiacono was fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass. He also sank two free throws, and the game was suddenly knotted at 75. In the closing seconds of regulation, Purdue guard Ronnie Johnson air-balled a 3-point attempt with the shot clock winding down. And then on the final play, Arcidiacono misfired on a short jumper. Forward Daniel Ochefu tipped in the rebound, but it came after the buzzer.

In overtime, Villanova guard James Bell opened the scoring with a 3-pointer -- his first of two daggers from deep in the extra period -- and the Wildcats never trailed from there, eventually putting the game away.

Star watch: Hilliard scored a game-high 22 points for Villanova, shooting 7-for-10 from the field. Arcidiacono, a freshman, added 18. And sophomore forward JayVaughn Pinkston, a Brooklyn native, chipped in 16. Bell scored 15 points on the night.

For Purdue, Byrd finished with a team-high 16 points -- but he fouled out in regulation and was unavailable in OT. Ronnie Johnson had 12 points and nine assists.

Number crunch: Free throws ended up being a critical factor. Villanova knocked down 33 of 41 (80.5 percent). Purdue made just 16 of 28 (57.1 percent).

What's next: Villanova will face Alabama in the championship game, Friday at 7:30 p.m. Purdue will play Oregon State in the consolation game at 5 p.m.