SYRACUSE - Maalik Wayns scored 17 of his 21 points in the first half, as seventh-ranked Villanova built a big lead and held off a late Syracuse charge to earn an 83-72 victory over the third-ranked Orange at the Carrier Dome.
Both teams were coming off losses on Monday. Syracuse fell for the first time this season in a 74-66 decision at Pittsburgh and Villanova suffered its second loss with a last-second 61-59 setback at Connecticut.
The Orange (18-2, 5-2 Big East) played against the Panthers without leading scorer Kris Joseph, who suffered a head injury last weekend in a win against Cincinnati. He was back in the lineup on Saturday and finished with 23 points in defeat. Rick Jackson notched his 13th double-double of the season with 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Orange.
Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher each added 16 points for Villanova (17-2, 5-1), which had an 11-game win streak snapped at UConn on Monday. Fisher also handed out seven assists.
The Orange trailed by double figures for most of the second half and were down 69-56 with just under five minutes remaining before reeling off nine straight points to make it interesting. Brandon Triche ignited the burst with a three- pointer and Joseph added four of the next six points. His steal and dunk with 2:41 left pulled Syracuse within 69-65.
Wayns then hit a pair from the line to stem the momentum and Triche misfired from beyond the arc on Syracuse's next trip. Maurice Sutton drained two from the stripe to extend Villanova's lead back to eight.
A three-point play from Baye Keita with just over a minute left made it a five-point game, but the Wildcats were perfect from the line down the stretch to seal it. Villanova made all six free throws in the final 61 seconds and finished 22-of-24 from the charity stripe.
The Wildcats were also deadly from long range with an 11-of-24 effort from beyond the arc. Wayns, Stokes and Fisher combined for 10 of those makes.
Syracuse hit 10-of-26 from three-point range, led by four makes each from Triche and Joseph. Scoop Jardine missed each of his three tries and finished the contest with just two points -- 11 below his season average of 13.6.
Villanova turned an early 16-14 lead into a 10-point advantage in a matter of two minutes. Stokes drained a jumper and Wayns followed with a three-pointer before Stokes connected from beyond the arc to give the Wildcats a 24-14 edge midway through the opening half.
After Dion Waiters countered with a three for the Orange, Fisher hit two from long distance as part of a 10-3 burst that extended the Villanova cushion to 34-20 with six minutes to play before the intermission.
Syracuse got only as close as 10 before heading to the break down 40-29. The Orange made just 37 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, while the Wildcats blistered the nets at 56 percent and hit 8-of-13 from outside the arc.
The Orange scored the first four points of the second half to close within seven, but Villanova had a quick answer with a three-pointer from Stokes and the Wildcat lead hovered between 10 and 13 points for the next several minutes.
A three-point play by Jackson pulled Syracuse within 55-49 with just under 12 1/2 minutes left and the Orange had two chances to trim the deficit further but turned it over twice. After Mouphtaou Yarou hit a free throw for Villanova, the Orange again came up empty and Stokes drilled a shot from beyond the arc to extend the Wildcat lead back to 10 with 9 1/2 minutes to play.
Villanova has the most wins of any Syracuse opponent at the Carrier Dome with 13. The teams will meet in Philadelphia on February 21...Dominic Cheek was back in the lineup for Villanova after missing Monday's game with a sprained knee. He added to the Wildcats' trifecta barrage with one to finish with three points...The announced attendance of 33,736 fell shy of last February's Syracuse-Villanova game that set an on-campus record of 34,616...Syracuse remains home to face Seton Hall on Tuesday, while Villanova will play its third straight road game on Wednesday at Providence.