Mouphtaou Yarou made his first seven shots and scored 18 points, sending Villanova to a 66-53 victory over St. John's in the second round of the Big East tournament Wednesday night in New York.
Ryan Arcidiacono added 15 points to help the seventh-seeded Wildcats (20-12) move into the quarterfinals, where they will play Thursday night against fourth-ranked Louisville, the tournament's No. 2 seed.
JayVaughn Pinkston had 12 points and nine rebounds for Villanova, which shook off St. John's midway through the second half. Yarou, a senior center, finished 9 for 10 from the field with seven rebounds and three steals.
In other Big East games:
No. 19 Syracuse 75, Seton Hall 63: James Southerland hit five 3-pointers in the first half to keep Syracuse in the game and Brandon Triche keyed a big second-half run that gave the Orange a win.
Syracuse, which had lost four of its last five games, looked more like the team that was second in the league in scoring (72.3). The Orange looked nothing like the team that managed just 39 points in a 22-point loss to Georgetown to close the regular season.
Cincinnati 61, Providence 44: Sean Kilpatrick scored 17 points to lead Cincinnati in a game between teams desperate to improve their postseason credentials.
JaQuon Parker added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Bearcats (22-10), who might have solidified an NCAA tournament berth with the win.
Kadeem Batts led the Friars (17-14) with 14 points and eight rebounds, but Bryce Cotton — the conference's leading scorer at 19.6 points per game — was held to 12 on 5-for-15 shooting. He missed all seven 3-point attempts, and Providence went 1 for 16 from beyond the arc.
Bucknell 64, Lafayette 56: Mike Muscala scored six of his 20 points during a decisive second-half stretch to help host Bucknell capture its second NCAA tournament berth in three seasons by winning Patriot League title game in Lewisburg, Pa.
Joe Willman had 14 points and eight rebounds to form a potent frontcourt duo with Muscala, the conference player of the year for the top-seeded Bison (28-5). Muscala also had 11 rebounds.
Just like two years ago, Bucknell beat Lafayette (19-15) on its home floor to advance.
Joey Ptasinski had 15 points for Lafayette, including several buckets during a key second-half sequence that helped narrow a 12-point deficit to single digits. Ptasinski's layup off a backdoor cut drew the Leopards within 41-38 with 7:17 left.
That's when the 6-foot-11 Muscala took over, hitting turnaround jumpers and dominating the post during a 10-2 run that extended the lead to 51-40 with 3:52 left.
Several still in running for top spots
Up to seven teams could be in the running for No. 1 seeds in the NCAA men's tournament, the chairman of the selection committee said Wednesday, providing a lot more uncertainty than a year ago.
Mike Bobinski, the athletic director at Xavier, said the coveted seeds were more obvious in 2012, when the only suspense was who would get the last of the No. 1 spots.
Not surprising, given a wide-open season where no team has established itself as clearly the class of the field.
Gonzaga is ranked No. 1 in The AP rankings, but doesn't come from one of the glamour conferences. Second-ranked Duke is projected as the top team in the RPI, a crucial component in the selection committee process. Traditional powerhouses Indiana, Louisville, Georgetown and Kansas are also in contention for top seeds, with their final seeding likely dependent on how they do in their conference tournaments.
"I can't speak for the entire committee, but as I walk into our process this year I would tell you I've probably got seven teams in my mind for the first four spots," Bobinski said. "That will come into focus in the next few days, but it's more than four for the top four."
San Jose fires coach
San Jose State has fired men's basketball coach George Nessman after eight seasons with the Spartans, just one day after San Jose State's season ended with a 67-49 loss to UTSA in the WAC tournament in Las Vegas.
The Spartans went 9-20 this season, their second straight season with only nine wins. Nessman had an 86-161 record in his tenure.
San Jose State is looking to upgrade the program before its move to the more strenuous Mountain West Conference next season.