Entering halftime of Tuesday night's opening-round game of the Big East Tournament against the No. 11 Rutgers Scarlet Knights, the No. 14 Villanova Wildcats trailed by four points and risked ending their season with two consecutive losses. But a stout defensive effort in the second half catapulted the Wildcats (13-18, 5-13 Big East) to a 70-49 win over the Scarlet Knights and set them up for a second-round showdown with the No. 6 South Florida Bulls (19-12, 12-6 Big East) Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. Tip-off is slated for 9 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN3D.
Villanova shot 45.8 percent from the field Tuesday while holding Rutgers to just 29.1 percent. Junior guard Maalik Wayns led the Wildcats with 28 points on 7-of-14 shooting, while junior forward/center Mouphtaou Yarou recorded a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
South Florida, meanwhile, earned a first-round bye despite ending the regular season with a 50-44 loss to West Virginia Saturday. Nevertheless, the Bulls did win six of their last eight games.
Interestingly enough, USF has zero players averaging at least 10 points per game. However, the Bulls do have five players averaging at least 8.0 ppg, with their leading scorer, senior forward Augustus Gilchrist, averaging 9.9 ppg.
The winner of Wednesday night's game will play the No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN3D.