What a game and what a difference three days can make.
In the end, after Providence coach Ed Cooley split his trousers and wore a towel around his waist to cover it, after the Friars chased the defending Big East champions into overtime for a third straight night, the sell-out crowd stood.
It is just the fourth BIG EAST Championship game to go into overtime.
Jalen Brunson's first sign of emotion in this Big East tournament came, finally, in the closing minutes of its final game. Xavier was cruising with a 52-35 lead five minutes into the second half and all the sudden the game changed.
Cartwright Shines: Another day, another MSG takeover for Kyron Cartwright. Providence calls timeout. 9-2 Villanova. Tabbed as a first round pick by National Basketball Association scouts, Bridges displayed his versatility, gliding across the lane for one layup on the left side of the rim, pulling up for a midrange jumper, driving to the basket on the right side of the rim and stroking a three from the left wing.
Then he blew the roof off of the place. The win was also Butler's first in the Big East Tournament.
Villanova had rolled to a pair of dominant victories in the tourney and held off a pesky Providence team that finally wilted late in its third straight overtime game.
Prior to the final 3-pointer of that run he defended the massive Spellman in the paint and boxed him out on the rebound. The Friars won the most recent matchup 76-71.
Ashton-Langford, a freshman, wouldn't let his leader down. Now, the question becomes whether the Wildcats can continue this success over the next few weeks when it matters the most during the NCAA tournament. "We played well. They're a really good offensive team". Bridges added 25, including two 3-pointers in overtime.
Martin finished with 13 and Baldwin 12. Like we said, when the huddle talks, the coaches shut up.
The final minute featured dramatic swings with both teams seizing momentum. Two more Providence free throws closed the lead to 65-64 before Bridges picked up a loose ball near the same spot he had made the earlier triple and poured in another 3-pointer to make it 68-64 in favor of the Cats at the 2:08 mark of overtime.
Cooley then went to the bench for Drew Edwards and the pesky defender slowed Brunson's onslaught. It is drama on steroids, and prepares a team for the rigors of the NCAA tournament, which starts with the first four in Dayton. The 6-foot-9 forward grew by leaps and bounds during his time at Sprint Center, making the Jayhawks an even scarier proposition in next week's NCAA Tournament. They used those numbers to open up a 44-25 lead at halftime.
It wouldn't have been a game had Carolina not pummeled PC on the glass all night.
No other Villanova player scored in double figures, though Eric Paschall led all players with 13 rebounds. Bridges missed a 3, but Nova grabbed the rebound. Bridges snuck in and laid the ball home to give Villanova a one point advantage.
Amid all the intensity, Brunson helped keep things levelheaded.
That's an unbelievable win for us, right? Two Bridges free throws snapped the VU drought but a traditional 3-point play from Alpha Diallo tied the contest at 23. Our defense in the second half to me was stellar. They will be more popular on brackets to get to the end, essentially becoming more people's date in the tournament.