LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Despite an early stumble to the season, Villanova will be playing for a November title.
The Wildcats' veteran leaders made sure of that.
On Day 2 of the AdvoCare Invitational, redshirt seniors Eric Paschall and Phil Booth led the way Friday, scoring 42 of Villanova's points in a 77-58 victory over Oklahoma State at ESPN's Wide World of Sports.
"As much as they scored — and they did a great job, we obviously need that, and when Eric gets off to a start like that, it makes a big impact — I think Phil had five assists," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "Eric was getting people shots. He didn't get the assist, but it was the extra pass; somebody else got the shot. That what was really impressive.
"Defensively, the two of them were really good because they're experienced. If they don't make those shots, I think we win by four or six because of their defense and leadership on the glass and defensively."
Villanova has won its two AdvoCare games by a combined 160-114. With the win, the Wildcats advance to Sunday's AdvoCare Invitational title game against the winner of the game between No. 14 Florida State and No. 19 LSU.
Paschall dominated the first half with 20 points on 7-for-8 shooting from the field. He also hit six three-pointers during the first 20 minutes and finished the contest with 22 points.
"My coach gives me the confidence to make the right play and catch and shoot, know when to drive," Paschall said. "My teammates just did a great job of just finding me throughout the game and getting me in good spots."
Booth scored 20 points and dished out five assists. He took over the second half by scoring 11 points after Paschall cooled off a bit. It was the second game in a row in which Booth scored at least 10 points in the second half.
The game was a solid bounce-back for both redshirt seniors, who had struggled with foul trouble early Thursday against Canisius. Neither player committed more than three fouls against the Cowboys.
The Wildcats (4-2) were never threatened much by the Cowboys. Paschall hit the first two shots for Villanova, both from beyond the arc, to give the Wildcats a 6-0 lead. Villanova never relinquished the advantage.
The Cowboys were led by Mike Cunningham, who had 15 points, all on three-pointers. Oklahoma State mounted a bit of a comeback in the second half, but Villanova had already ballooned its lead to 25 and the Cowboys couldn't get within 10.
"They play with a championship mind-set," Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said about the defending national champs. "They play like champions. You can sense that there's an urgency to the way they prepare, the way they warm up, the way they huddle during games, the way they communicate defensively."
Booth hit back-to-back threes to put the Wildcats up by 67-49 and effectively end Oklahoma State's hopes of a comeback with 6 minutes, 52 seconds left. The Wildcats went more than three minutes after that without a point, but the Cowboys struggled from the field and couldn't capitalize.
Freshman forward Saddiq Bey (13 points) was the only other Villanova player in double figures.
Villanova fans came out in full force for the second day in a row. Wright stayed for a while after the game to hang out with fans before speaking to members of the media.
"They just show up everywhere, man," Wright said. "They're awesome. They take great pride in this basketball program and how these guys represent the program. It's fun for us all to be a part of."