Published January 08, 2015
New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Dylan Ennis scored 12 of his 18 points in the final 10 minutes to help the No. 7 Villanova pull away from Illinois, 73-59, in Game 1 of the Jimmy V Classic from Madison Square Garden.
Daniel Ochefu and Darrun Hilliard both scored 12 points for Villanova (9-0), which improved to 3-0 in New York this season. The Wildcats beat VCU and Michigan -- both ranked teams at the time -- at Barclays Center earlier this season to win the Legends Classic.
"Like me, they know I love coming to New York," Villanova head coach Jay Wright said of his team. "We get excited about the challenge of being here."
Josh Hart added 10 points off the bench. The Wildcats are one of just 10 undefeated teams in the nation despite not having a single 20-point scorer this season.
Illinois (7-2) fell despite a career-high 20 points for Malcolm Hill.
"I'm more disappointed about the loss and focused on how we can get better," Hill said.
Hill scored seven points in the opening 4 1/2 minutes, and Illinois led 9-8 at the first media timeout. However, the experienced Wildcats created some separation from there.
Hilliard and Hart made layups out of the timeout to jumpstart a 13-2 run.
The Illini chipped away, running off eight straight points later in the half, but Nova led 33-27 at intermission.
Early in the second half, Ahmad Starks assisted on a pair of layups and potted a 3 from the top of the key to tie the game at 38.
It was 50-50 when Ennis connected on a pair of 3s around a Nnanna Egwu free throw. Ennis then followed his baseline jumper with two free throws a few minutes later to extend the lead to 66-55.
Hilliard's 3-ball at 3:14 ultimately put the game away.
Villanova now leads the all-time series 4-3. The two teams haven't met since 1988 ... The Wildcats shot 29-of-52 (55.8 percent) from the floor ... Illinois has lost seven straight and 10 of its last 11 against top-10 teams ... Rayvonte Rice scored 10 for the Illini.