NEW YORK -- Louisville used an early 15-4 run to take control and rolled to a 74-55 win over Villanova Thursday night in a Big East tournament quarterfinal game at Madison Square Garden.
Villanova was still as close as seven two minutes into the second half before Louisville put the game away with an 11-3 run.
The 19-point loss matched the Wildcats' worst ever in the Big East tournament -- they lost 82-63 to Georgetown in 2008 -- and was Villanova's largest losing margin since a 21-point defeat to Notre Dame on Feb. 28, 2011.
Villanova, which beat Louisville by nine at the Wells Fargo Center in late January, committed more turnovers in the first half (16) than it averages per game (15.4) and finished with 25 turnovers, matching its season high at Providence.
The Wildcats shot just 21-for-53 from the field (40 percent) and 2-for-11 from three. In the two Big East tourney games, Villanova was just 5-for-28 from long distance.
JayVaughn Pinkston had 21 points, four rebounds and four assists for Villanova, and Mouphtaou Yarou added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Wildcats, presumably assured of a berth in the NCAA tournament after a win over No. 5 Georgetown on Wednesday and a tourney win over St. John’s Wednesday, will learn their postseason assignment on Sunday evening.
Freshman Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova’s second-leading scorer at 12.3 points per game, missed his first seven shots, didn’t score in the game’s first 30 minutes and finished with just three points.
Louisville sophomore guard Russ Smith, a Brooklyn native, made four of six threes and scored 21 of his 28 points in the second half.
What it means
Villanova dropped to 20-13 and fell short of the Big East tournament semifinals for a seventh straight year. Villanova hasn’t reached the Big East title game in 16 years and hasn’t won the tournament in 18 years.
Louisville, seeded No. 2 and ranked No. 4 in the country, improved to 27-5 with its seventh straight win. The Cardinals will face the winner of the Notre Dame-Marquette game later Thursday evening in the semis at 9:30 p.m. Friday.
Villanova committed 11 turnovers on its first 16 possessions.
Villanova trailed by just three at 20-17 with 4½ minutes left in the first half when Smith, with the shot clock about to expire and Achraf Yacoubou in his face, made a deep fadeaway three. That sparked a 10-4 run to give the Cardinals a nine-point halftime lead.
By the numbers
Villanova’s 25 turnovers are its most since the Wildcats committed 28 vs. DePaul in January of 2012 ... 'Nova’s previous biggest margin of defeat this year was 18, against both Columbia and Cincinnati.
Villanova will learn its postseason fate on Sunday evening, but with 20 wins, a 10-8 Big East Conference record and wins over top-5 Georgetown, Louisville and Syracuse, Villanova is considered a lock to make the field.