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Rutgers Basketball: Scarlet Knights Plays Tough But Fall Short To No. 8 Villanova

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights almost pulled out a weekend sweep for SB Nation New York college hoops teams but fell short on Sunday.

Here's the rest from SB Nation's Sports Network:

"Villanova, PA (Sports Network) - Corey Stokes scored 23 points and Corey Fisher added 19, as eighth-ranked Villanova pulled away late in the second half for an 81-65 victory over Rutgers in the Big East opener for both schools at the Pavilion.

Maalik Wayns contributed nine points, nine assists and eight rebounds for Villanova (12-1, 1-0 Big East), which has won seven straight since a loss to Tennessee in the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-off at Madison Square Garden on November 26.

Jonathan Mitchell scored 17 points and James Beatty chipped in 14 for the Scarlet Knights (9-4, 0-1), who lost by 23 at North Carolina in their last contest on December 28. Rutgers had won six straight before that setback.

Villanova trailed 37-33 at the break, but scored the first 11 points to start the second half. Stokes netted eight during the early burst and his three- pointer just over two minutes into the period gave the Wildcats a 44-37 lead."

(Read more.)

Big East basketball fans need to take away that this conference gets tougher and tougher each week. Remember, this game wasn't played at the RAC but on the road.

Head coach Mike Rice has this team at least competing in the conference. And, gauging success from previous seasons, that's saying a lot.