Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - Darrun Hilliard pumped in a career-high 31 points and hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds of sixth- ranked Villanova's 68-65 win over No. 18 Butler on Saturday.
The Butler defense made a crucial mistake late in the game by not covering the hottest shooter in Hinkle Fieldhouse. A pair of defenders got caught running at Ryan Arcidiacono, who sent a pass to a wide open Hilliard for the winning jumper from the right wing.
Hilliard went 9-of-16 from the floor, including 8-of-13 from beyond the arc.
The Bulldogs called a perfect play with less than two seconds left. Kelan Martin ended up getting a nice look at a tying trey after a full-court pass from underneath their own basket, but his attempt was well off the mark as Villanova held on.
JayVaughn Pinkston added 12 points for the Wildcats (23-2, 10-2 Big East), who have won six straight.
"I don't if I've ever seen them lose their poise. They have a great way about them," Butler coach Chris Holtman said of Villanova.
Alex Barlow and Kellen Dunham each scored 19 points in the loss. The Bulldogs (18-7, 8-4) had their five-game winning streak halted.
"Really great defensive concepts and they force you to figure out what you can do," Villanova coach Jay Wright said of Butler's stingy defense.
Butler scored the first six points of the second half to take a 28-27 lead. Dunham netted the final four of that run and ended up scoring 10 straight points as the Bulldogs gained some separation.
Hilliard dropped in consecutive 3-pointers later on to give Villanova a 50-48 lead with 10 minutes to play. The Wildcats continued to pour in shots from beyond the arc, as Dylan Ennis' trey pushed the lead to 53-49.
Roosevelt Jones, one of Butler's top scorers, made his first basket with 5:41 to play that brought the hosts within one. Barlow canned a 3 with 2:44 left that gave the Bulldogs a 63-62 lead. Barlow then committed a shooting foul of Hilliard shooting a 3, and Hilliard made each free throw to put Villanova back in front.
The Bulldogs had a pair of chances on the following possession. Andrew Chrabascz missed from in close, grabbed his own rebound and kicked it out to Barlow, who was short on his 3-point attempt. Jones tied the game with a layup after Hilliard was whistled for a double dribble with 17 seconds on the clock.
It was an offensive struggle in the early going, as Butler grabbed an 11-10 lead following Martin's 3-pointer midway through the first half. Four Wildcats contributed to an 11-4 run later in the half that helped Villanova to a 27-19 edge, then Barlow nailed a trey to close the Butler gap just before halftime.
Villanova held the Bulldogs to 29.6 percent shooting in the opening half.
Jones finished with six points on 2-of-11 shooting in the loss ... Villanova went 23-of-50 from the floor, and held Butler to 21-of-51 shooting ... Hilliard had eight rebounds ... Kameron Woods ripped a game-high 11 rebounds for the Bulldogs.