NEW YORK — Josh Hart scored 29 points and No. 2 Villanova beat Creighton 74-60 on Saturday to win the Big East Tournament and probably lock up the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Hart, the conference player of the year, became just the third player to win the tournament MVP award twice, joining Patrick Ewing of Georgetown and Peyton Siva of Louisville.
Villanova (31-3) played Villanova basketball, just as the Wildcats did last season in winning the national championship. Good defense, sharing the ball and making 3-pointers is the formula that has led them to four consecutive Big East regular-season titles.
This was their third Big East Tournament crown, the others coming in 1995 and 2015.
The Wildcats had their hands on so many Creighton passes, they forced 17 turnovers that led to 21 points. And with Hart leading the way, they made every big shot they needed.
Jalen Brunson added 17 points for Villanova. Kris Jenkins, whose 3-pointer won the national championship game last year, had 14.
Cole Huff and Marcus Foster each scored 13 points to lead Creighton (25-9).
Villanova, which lost last season’s Big East championship game to Seton Hall, closed the first half on a 25-11 run to go up 36-22. Hart had 12 points in the spurt and Brunson added eight. The two combined to score the Wildcats’ final 20 points in the semifinals.
The lead reached 46-26, and the closest the Bluejays got the rest of the way was 12.
Hart, who along with Brunson defended Foster, scored every way imaginable, from 3-pointers to acrobatic drives. He finished the tournament with 63 points and was 21 of 41 from the field. The 29 points marked his third-highest total of the season.
Creighton was 2 of 12 from 3-point range in the first half and the Bluejays committed 10 turnovers, only 2.3 fewer than they averaged per game this season.
The title game was played before a sellout crowd of 19,812 at Madison Square Garden, which hosted the tournament for the 35th consecutive year.
Creighton: The Bluejays’ only other championship game appearance was in 2014 when they lost to Providence. … Creighton lost three of four games coming into the tournament. … The Bluejays beat Providence 70-53 in the quarterfinals and Xavier 76-72 in the semifinals. … The 14-point halftime deficit was Creighton’s largest of the season, and its 22 points were five fewer than its previous low for the season.
Villanova: The Wildcats swept the season series with Creighton, winning by 10 and 16 points. … Villanova beat St. John’s 108-67 in the quarterfinals and Seton Hall 55-53 in the semifinals. … The Wildcats came into the game 2-2 in Big East championship games.
The game’s first free throw was taken with 4:30 left in the first half.
Jenkins, Brunson, Foster, Angel Delgado of Seton Hall and Trevon Bluiett of Xavier comprised the all-tournament team.
Creighton: Will wait to hear where it is headed in the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday.
Villanova: Should hear its name called first when the brackets are announced.