STATE COLLEGE—D.J. Richardson scored 20 points and Illinois staved off a Penn State rally from a double-digit deficit in a 77-67 win Wednesday night to snap the Illini’s three-game losing streak.Down 10 early, the Nittany Lions took a 46-42 lead with 15:06 left after David Jackson’s layup capped a 12-0 run. Jackson finished with 13 points, while Talor Battle had a team-high 20.But a nearly 5-minute Penn State scoring drought gave Illinois (13-8, 5-3 Big Ten) another opening. Despite some choppy play, Mike Davis’ jumper and Dominique Keller’s buzzer-beating fall-away gave the Illini a 59-53 lead with 4:03 left.Demetri McCamey’s 3 from 20 feet with the shot clock winding down extended the lead to 10 with 2 minutes to go.It was another crushing loss for the Nittany Lions (8-12, 0-8). Their winless streak in conference play is the school’s worst Big Ten start since 2003.
PHILADELPHIA—Villanova is 19-1 for the first time in school history.Maybe reaching its first Final Four in 24 years last season was only a starting point for Wright’s talented team.Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher each scored 17 points to help No. 3 Villanova beat Notre Dame 90-72 on Wednesday night.The Wildcats are 19-1 for the first time and are the only Big East team unbeaten in conference play (8-0). Led by Reynolds, Fisher, Antonio Pena and Co., Villanova has won 10 straight games and is in the mix for the top spot next week in the Associated Press poll.South Carolina’s 68-62 win over No. 1 Kentucky a night earlier could knock the Wildcats from the top spot. No. 2 Kansas might ascend to No. 1 if it wins at No. 11 Kansas State on Saturday.If Kentucky loses-, well, reserve a spot for Villanova. Losing focus seems unlikely for the Wildcats, especially with the meat of the Big East schedule ahead. They have back-to-back road games against top-10 teams Georgetown (Feb. 6) and West Virginia (Feb. 8) and a showdown with No. 4 Syracuse.Reynolds and Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody were expected to state their cases for Big East Player of the Year. Harangody delivered on his end for the Irish (15-6, 4-4) with 21 points and nine rebounds in 37 minutes. Harangody played hard until the end and kept alive Notre Dame’s early bid for its first win over a top-10 team on the road since 2001.
DE KALB—D. J. Cooper scored a career-high 29 points and Armon Bassett had 25 to lead Ohio to a 99-84 victory over Northern Illinois Wednesday night.Three other Bobcats scored in double figures. Reggie Keely had 14 points, Tommy Freeman 13 and Kenneth Van Kempen had 11 points and nine rebounds.Ohio (11-9, 2-4 Mid-American) broke away from a 63-63 game midway through the second half, scoring 36 points in the game’s final 9 1/2 minutes. The final margin of 15 was the Bobcats’ largest lead.Xavier Silas’ 31 points led all scorers for Northern Illinois (8-10, 4-2). Silas scored the first 15 points for the Huskies. Mike Dinunno scored 16 and Lee Fisher had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Huskies, who lost despite owning a 48-38 rebounding edge in the game.