Booth and Jermaine Samuels combined for the next eight points, with Booth hitting a 3-pointer that bounced high off the rim and dropped through the net. Gillespie helped seal the win with his third 3-pointer of the half to put Villanova up 67-55 with six minutes left.
Gillespie shot 6 for 10 from 3-point range while Booth, who’s scored at least 20 points in each of his last four games, made 5 of 9 attempts from behind the arc.
The first half was a study in contrasting styles as all but three of Xavier’s points came in the paint while Villanova made eight 3-pointers on 18 attempts. Zach Hankins, a 6-foot-11 graduate transfer from Ferris State who was the 2018 NABC Division II Player of the Year, paced Xavier with all 12 of his points before the break.
The Wildcats were missing an inside presence as the team announced before the game that 6-9 freshman Cole Swider will be sidelined indefinitely after fracturing a bone in his right hand during practice on Thursday.
Xavier: The Musketeers, who edged ‘Nova for the 2018 Big East regular-season title, now have as many losses in the league as they did all of last season. They are winless against Villanova on the road in six tries since the inaugural season of the reconfigured Big East in 2013-14.
Villanova: Chasing their fifth Big East regular-season championship in six years, the Wildcats moved a full game ahead of second-place Marquette. They returned to the AP Top 25 this week for the first time since mid-December.
Xavier hosts Providence on Wednesday night.
Villanova visits Butler on Tuesday night.
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