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CINCINNATI (AP) — Darrun Hilliard scored 19 points and No. 6 Villanova clinched the outright Big East championship for the first time in 32 years by holding off Xavier 77-70 on Thursday night.
JayVaughn Pinkston added 15 points — eight in the last 3:20 — James Bell finished with 12 and Ryan Arcidiacono chipped in with 11 as the Wildcats (27-3, 15-2 Big East) extended their school record for regular-season wins with their fifth straight and 11th in their last 12 games.
The Wildcats went into the night with a 1 1-2 game lead over No. 13 Creighton in the Big East and two games remaining. The Bluejays have one game to play.
Villanova, which last won the title alone in 1981-82, wraps up its regular season Saturday at home against Georgetown.
Justin Martin had 20 points for Xavier (20-11, 10-8) while Semaj Christon added 18 and Isaiah Philmore finished with 15. The Musketeers ended the regular season with consecutive losses.
The game was Xavier's first without 6-foot-10 junior center Matt Stainbrook, who started each of the Musketeers' previous 30 before straining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee in their loss at Seton Hall on Monday.
No. 15 CINCINNATI 97, No. 20 MEMPHIS 84
Sean Kilpatrick scored a season-high 34 points in his final home game, and a trio of senior starters steadied Cincinnati in a win that left the American Athletic Conference race tied with a game to go.
The Bearcats (25-5, 14-3 AAC) remained tied atop the first-year league with No. 11 Louisville. The Cardinals won 84-71 at No. 18 Southern Methodist on Wednesday night and finish at home against No. 19 Connecticut. The Bearcats close the regular season at Rutgers.
With a chance to break the race open, the Tigers (22-8, 11-6) fell apart in the opening minutes and never fully recovered. Cincinnati's seniors kept the Bearcats ahead the whole game.
Kilpatrick led the way in his final home game at the school where he will end up as the No. 2 all-time scorer behind Oscar Robertson. Forward Titus Rubles had a career-high 24 points, and forward Justin Jackson added 13 points and nine rebounds.
The Bearcats piled up a season-high points for an AAC game. It was the second-most points Memphis had allowed all season.
Joe Jackson scored 21 points for Memphis, which turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, cut a 14-point deficit to one early in the second half and got overpowered down the stretch.