PHILADELPHIA – Corey Stokes scored 23 points and Mouphtaou Yarou had 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead No. 7 Villanova to its 10th straight win, 88-74 over No. 18 Louisville on Wednesday night.
Corey Fisher scored 17 points and Maalik Wayns had 15 for the Wildcats, who beat their second straight Top 25 team. The Wildcats (15-1, 4-0 Big East) beat then-No. 24 Cincinnati on Sunday and haven't lost since Nov. 26.
Coach Jay Wright has said this season his team isn't as good as its ranking, but it might be there now.
The Wildcats resisted turning the game into a complete 3-point exhibition when Louisville (13-3, 2-1) got hot early and used contributions from all the starters in a game-changing spurt to pull away.
Preston Knowles scored 24 points for the Cardinals. Chris Smith scored 18 points and Peyton Siva had 14.
The Cardinals made 12 of 25 3s.
Stokes did his damage from 3-point range, Yarou got big buckets inside and Wayns and Fisher were pests defensively and scooted to the basket for key points.
They all chipped in during a 12-2 run that put the game away late in the second half. Yarou, rounding into one of the top frontcourt players in coach Jay Wright's 10 seasons, started the run with a three-point play. The speedy Wayns blew down the lane for a layup, then swiped the ball at halfcourt. He lost control as he neared the bucket, but Fisher was there to recover and score the bucket.
There wasn't a bad effort from any of the Villanova starters and they played about as complete a game as they have all season.
Led by Yarou, the Wildcats dominated the boards (41-25) and from the free-throw line (18 of 23 to 6 of 7).
The Cardinals don't want to see a Philadelphia team again after losing at home to Drexel in December.
Stokes missed practice for two days after pulling a hamstring against the Bearcats but hardly looked bothered camped out from beyond the arc.
It's where the Cardinals also felt at home.
The Cardinals entered tops in the Big East, making an average of more than nine 3-pointers per game, and came out shooting from far away.
Smith made all three of his attempts and Knowles hit three in the first half to help the Cardinals shoot 8 for 15 in the first half. They wasted no time going deep, shooting mostly open 3s off one quick pass.
The 3-point spree reached its peak late in the first half. Fisher's 3 tied it at 30, Siva and Knowles went back-to-back for a six-point lead, then 'Nova's James Bell hit only his third 3 of the season to even the score.
Why stop there?
Smith put the Cardinals ahead 39-36 with a 3 making the painted lane seem merely decorative and not an area to score.
Stokes did his best to keep pace, though swapping baskets isn't Villanova's style. He made three of his own in a frenzied, at times sloppy, first 20 minutes and the Wildcats led 42-41 at the break.
Also, Louisville forward Jared Swopshire will have surgery to repair an injured groin and will miss the rest of the season. He averaged 7.5 points and 6.1 rebounds as a sophomore for the Cardinals in 2009-10.