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01/14/2012 2:55 PM EST
Cincinnati beat Villanova 82-78 despite Wayns' 39
CINCINNATI 82, VILLANOVA 78

By JOE KAY
AP Sports Writer

CINCINNATI (AP) -- CINCINNATI (AP) - Dion Dixon scored 22 points
in a fire-away offense, and Cincinnati overcame Maalik Wayns'
39-point performance Saturday, rallying for an 82-78 victory
over Villanova.



The Bearcats (14-4, 4-1 Big East) took the ball inside down the
stretch, converting a pair of three-point plays to take the lead
for good with 5 minutes left.



Villanova (8-10, 1-5) remained winless on the road this season
despite a career-best performance from its point guard. Wayns
had 19 points in the first half, when the Wildcats shot 64
percent from the field and led by as many as 10. He finished
with a career-high 13 rebounds.



Wayns' driving basket cut the lead to 81-78 with 6.6 seconds
left. Cashmere Wright was fouled on the inbound play and made
the first free throw to seal it.



Yancy Gates had 16 points and nine rebounds for Cincinnati, off
to its best start in league play since it joined in 2005-06.



Cincinnati's defense is ranked second-best in the Big East, but
couldn't handle Villanova's outside shooters in the first half.
Wayns made seven of his eight shot, and the Wildcats - one of
the league's worst 3-point shooting teams - went 10 of 16 from
behind the arc while surging to a 45-40 halftime lead.



Villanova couldn't keep it up. The Wildcats shot only 28 percent
in the second half, allowing Cincinnati to catch up and nudge
ahead. The Bearcats made 6 of 8 free throws in the final 28
seconds, including four by Wright, who was only 2 of 14 from the
field.



Cincinnati had only three turnovers in the game, preventing
Villanova to get the fast break baskets that are a staple of
their offense. Villanova's Dominic Cheek had 16 points in the
first half but finished with only 19, missing five of his six
shots in the second half.



Cincinnati has won nine of its last 10, including a 68-64
victory at No. 11 Georgetown on Monday set up by tough defense.
The Bearcats forced 17 turnovers and had 13 steals against the
Hoyas, relying on the one constant during their recent streak.



That defense struggled at the outset on Saturday.



Villanova was second-to-last in 3-point shooting in the Big
East, making only 24.7 percent, but found its touch to start the
game. The Wildcats made 4 of 5 from behind the arc to open the
game, pulling out to a 16-6 lead that forced Cincinnati to call
a timeout and regroup.



The Bearcats also came out firing away.



Dixon made four 3s during a 22-5 run over the next 4 minutes
that pushed it to 28-21. The Bearcats made six consecutive 3s
during the spurt, with Dixon leading the way. He hit his first
five shots overall, four of them from behind the arc.



Wayns hit back-to-back 3s during a 14-3 run that closed the half
and put Villanova up 45-40. Wayns also opened the second half by
hitting another 3 for an eight-point lead.



The run-and-gun pace stuck, with both teams shooting away.
Villanova cooled off fast, making only 3 of 15 shots to start
the second half. Cincinnati couldn't do anything consistently,
either, resulting in five quick lead changes.

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