When 16th-ranked Villanova makes shots, especially from the perimeter, it can handle just about anything the food chain has to offer.
And when the Wildcats don't, well, ask Oklahoma how far south that can go.
On Monday, the Cats converted 1 of 11 from the arc against Penn. It didn't matter, because they're a much better team. But Thursday afternoon, again at the Pavilion, the opponent in their Big East opener was the No. 6 team in the nation in Xavier, one of three from the conference perched above the unanimous preseason favorite in the polls. So naturally the Wildcats went 36 of 57 from anywhere, 13 of 25 from three, and rolled past the previously unbeaten Musketeers, 95-64.
It was their 34th straight on-campus win but their first over a top 10 opponent at the Pavilion since December 2005. And maybe it was an early statement that the best team in their neighborhood might still reside on the Main Line.
"It's too early to say," coach Jay Wright hedged. "I think the league is really good."
The Wildcats, who still haven't had a game decided by less than 11 points, will take an 11-2 record to Creighton (10-4) on Saturday.
The Musketeers lost freshman Edmond Sumner, their second-leading scorer, a little over two minutes in when he came down hard after being fouled while going to the basket and had to be taken off on a stretcher.
"He's a huge part of our team," said coach Chris Mack, whose 12-0 start at Xavier was the best in program history. "That was very hard to overcome. It weighed on our minds. He's walking and talking, but he has a tremendous headache. That's all I really know.
"From that point on, we weren't ourselves. Villanova had a lot to do with that. It's the scariest thing I've ever been part of. We didn't know."
The Wildcats, who have lost two Big East games in each of the last two seasons, got just 17 minutes out of lead guard Jalen Brunson, who had a stomach flu and had to go to the hospital for an IV in the morning. And top scorer Josh Hart played 15 minutes because of foul problems. But it was 48-30 at the half, despite the fact that Hart hadn't taken a shot.
Ryan Arcidiacono finished with a season-high 27 points, five off his career best. He had 17 of the Wildcats' first 36. And his seven treys (on 14 attempts) tied a career best. He also had eight assists.
Arcidiacono "always knows what we need," said Wright. "I didn't say a word to him. I didn't have to. . . . The great ones know how to keep it going."
Hart did score 15, most of them early in the second half, going 6 for 6.
Without its point guard, Xavier had 19 turnovers. The rematch is Feb. 24 in Cincinnati. It figures to mean something.
"People were excited we were playing Xavier," said Arcidiacono. "But for us it was the next game."
Even if it did mean at least a little more.