For 25 minutes, St. John's appeared on the way to an easy victory Tuesday night. Then the Villanova Wildcats began playing up to their nickname.
Sixth-ranked St. John's led, 45-22, with 15:21 to play in their Big East game but had to hang on before taking a 79-76 decision at Philadelphia.
In falling behind by 23 points, Villanova could do nothing right, shooting just 22% from the field in the first half. Even Coach Rollie Massimino contributed to the deficit, drawing two technical fouls to give the Redmen four points that seemed insignificant at the time but proved crucial at the end.
Three times, the Wildcats clawed back to within three, the last time at 77-74 with 15 seconds left. Harold Pressley contributed 22 points in the second half.
Massimino said the officials' failure to make a traveling call set off the stomping, arm waving and heated remarks that led to the technicals.
"Anyway, when you shoot 22% in a half, you won't beat too many people," he said.
Ron Rowan scored 21 points for St. John's, and Walter Berry added 15.
Pressley, who scored 34 Saturday in a double-overtime victory over Georgetown, had 24 points to lead Villanova.
The victory boosted St. John's to 25-3 overall and 12-2 in the Big East, one-half game behind 12-1 Syracuse. Villanova is 18-12 and 8-6.
Seton Hall 65, Connecticut 62--Andre McCloud scored 23 points and Seton Hall sank eight free throws in the final 1:30 to hold off Connecticut in a Big East game at East Rutherford, N.J.
The victory was the Pirates' second straight in the conference, marking the first time in five years Seton Hall has posted back-to-back victories in the Big East.
Seton Hall (13-14 and 3-10) took the lead for good with a 10-0 run early in the second half.
Connecticut is 12-11 and 3-9.
Missouri 71, Iowa State 62--Derrick Chievous scored 18 points and Jeff Strong added 16 points to lead Missouri to a Big Eight victory at Columbia, Mo.
Chievous and guard Lynn Hardy scored six points apiece as the Tigers (19-12, 6-6) outscored the Cyclones, 21-4, in an eight-minute streak in the first half. Iowa State is 16-8 and 7-4.
Georgetown 81, Morgan St. 53--Reggie Williams scored seven points and David Wingate added six points during a 21-4 streak that closed out the first half, and the 13th-ranked Hoyas rolled to a nonconference victory at Baltimore.
Morgan State (5-17) trailed, 20-16, before Williams scored his first points of the game on two free throws to start the streak.
Wingate led Georgetown (20-5) with 16 points.