INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Eric Paschall scored 23 points, Phil Booth added 17 and No. 18 Villanova made 12 3-pointers to pull away from Butler 80-72 on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats (15-4, 6-0 Big East) have won seven straight since losing to Kansas on Dec. 15.
Aaron Thompson had 15 points for Butler (12-8, 3-4), which had won its previous two games. Sean McDermott had 14 points and seven rebounds while Kamar Baldwin and Jordan Tucker each finished with 11 points.
While the Big East’s two best defensive teams lived up to the billing, each team’s shooters were even better — especially during a first half when the teams combined to shoot 55 percent from the field and made 13 3s.
It kept the tight game interesting and entertaining. But all Villanova really needed was three quick flurries.
Booth fueled the first by scoring half of his team’s points in a 12-2 spurt to give the Wildcats a 33-25 advantage late in the first half.
Butler answered with a 12-5 burst before halftime then opened the second half on a 7-2 run to take a 44-43 lead on Nate Fowler’s 3-foot jumper with 17:32 left.
Villanova responded with four consecutive 3s — with Saddiq Bey making the first and Collin Gillespie knocking down the next three to give Villanova a 55-44 lead with 14:05 remaining.
The Bulldogs made one more charge, getting as close as 61-56, before Paschall’s fifth 3 capped a 7-0 spurt that gave Villanova a 68-56 lead with 6:23 to go. Butler didn’t get closer than seven the rest of the night.
Villanova: The defending champions are rolling. Their 3s are falling, their defense is terrific and they managed to pull off a solid road win against the one conference team that has given them trouble the last two seasons. It doesn’t get much better.
Butler: After losing four of five, the Bulldogs have showed some fight. They won back-to-back games and though they lost their second home game this season, Butler challenged Villanova most of the night. The Bulldogs seem to be gaining momentum as it heads into the heart of the conference schedule.
Villanova: Looks to extend its winning streak when Seton Hall comes to town Saturday.
Butler: Can earn a season sweep Friday at Creighton.