PITTSBURGH — Eric Dixon did not play the final 90 seconds of Villanova’s 71-61 victory over Ohio State on Sunday, the victory that sent the Wildcats to their fourth Sweet 16 in the last six NCAA Tournaments. It was an exit George Costanza could appreciate.

There were his 13 points and eight rebounds, his blocked shot and his steal, the multiple occasions that he dived to the floor for a loose ball. And then there was this moment: Villanova up five, Ohio State having cut a 15-point deficit to two just minutes earlier, Collin Gillespie backing down a defender, Dixon crosscourt behind the three-point arc, the Buckeyes sagging off him, Gillespie finding him, Dixon catching Gillespie’s kick-out and swishing the three.

The lead went to eight. The comeback was over. Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann called a timeout. Dixon went to the bench, the pro-Villanova sections of PPG Paints Arena still roaring, and never returned to the game. Jay Wright replaced him with Brandon Slater.

There’s leaving on a high note, and then there’s that.

“When you’ve got a guy like Brandon Slater ready to come in for you — one of the best defenders, I would say, in the country — I have no problem stepping out and letting him do his thing,” he said.

Dixon is an interesting and important player for Villanova. A redshirt sophomore from Abington High School, a wide-bodied 6-foot-8, he is the only underclassman in the starting lineup, and he is the only true post player in Wright’s rotation. That role can’t be minimized, especially against an opponent such as Ohio State, whose front line went 6-8, 6-8, 6-7 — the last of those players, E.J. Liddell, strong and tough and bound for a pro career. Without Dixon providing some size and stoutness down low, without him being a threat to score in the paint, Villanova’s perimeter scorers — Gillespie, Justin Moore, and Caleb Daniels — wouldn’t have so much space to shoot.

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It’s a delicate balance, and it was nearly upset last week, when Dixon contracted a stomach virus hours before Villanova’s game against St. John’s in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals. He was throwing up so frequently and so severely that his core and muscles throughout his body tightened up and grew sore, and he struggled to hydrate himself.

One Villanova staff member said Dixon “looked green,” and the illness affected not only the quality of his play but also the amount of time he could play. He spent no more than 14 minutes on the floor in any of the Wildcats’ three conference-tournament games. And though Villanova won all three, each went down to the wire, and it’s safe to say that Dixon’s weakened condition contributed to making those victories harder than they otherwise might have been.

“It feels good to feel good again,” he said.

He felt good enough to play 26 minutes and chip in 12 points and five rebounds in the Wildcats’ rout of Delaware on Friday, then was a force for most of the 32 minutes he played Sunday. But there’s a reason that Wright puts the ball in Gillespie’s hands anytime it’s getting late in a close game, and there’s a reason that, if Gillespie isn’t taking the shot in those situations, Moore or Daniels probably is. So what would Wright have thought back in October if someone had suggested to him that Eric Dixon was taking a three-pointer with the Sweet 16 on the line?

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“I would think you’re crazy,” Wright said. “Not that we don’t know he’s a good shooter, but to have the guts to take that shot — because he had other options as part of that. And Collin gave it to him, and I think they have the confidence, ‘If Collin’s giving it to me, that’s telling me go ahead and shoot it.’ He had other options, and I give him a lot of credit. That’s guts. Players just have that. If you’re a player, you have guts, and he’s got it.”

He has more than guts. He has taken thousands of three-pointers, he said, by himself in the gym, before practice, after practice, whenever he can. The work works. Dixon has attempted just 31 three-pointers this season, but he has made 16 of them, including the two he took Sunday, including the biggest shot of this tournament so far for the Wildcats.

“I take them as they come,” he said. “When you have Collin Gillespie, Justin Moore, and Caleb Daniels, I don’t need the ball. We have plenty of shooting on our team. So it’s not something I really focus on. I just try to go in, play defense, rebound. If I do those things, we’ve got plenty of shooters to shoot.”

Not with 90 seconds left Sunday. Not with that Sweet 16 berth still uncertain and a remarkable Ohio State rally still possible. There was just one shooter on the court in that moment. And once he raised up and released the ball, Eric Dixon didn’t need to do anything more. He was open. He took the shot. And that was it. It was time for him to go. He’d been great. Good night, everybody.