PHILADELPHIA -- Scottie Reynolds turned another tight one into a routine double-digit win for Villanova (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 4 AP).
Reynolds scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half, again saving his best for the final 20 minutes, and the Wildcats pulled away late to beat pesky Providence 92-81 on Saturday.
The Wildcats (22-2, 11-1 Big East) moved into a tie with Syracuse atop the Big East standings. Villanova would be alone in first if the second-ranked Orange lose Sunday against Louisville.
Reynolds has bailed out the Wildcats time and again with a second-half scoring surge that always helps them break the game open.
He scored 19 of his 21 points in the final 13 minutes in Villanova's 82-75 win at No. 5 West Virginia on Monday, and surged into fourth on the school's career scoring list on the back of big points down the stretch.
"I don't want it to always be, Scottie will get us going," coach Jay Wright said. "But I'm glad we have that. That's something I always have in the back of my mind."
Reynolds was a game-changer again without even scoring a field goal.
Providence (12-13, 4-9) had its second win over a Top 25 in sight until two costly fouls were called on Sharaud Curry with 8 minutes left. Curry fouled Reynolds and snapped at the referee -- a personal and a technical that gave him five fouls and sent Reynolds to the line for four shots.
Reynolds made three of them for a 67-60 lead. With Curry, who had 19 points, out of the game the Friars had no serious runs left.
"The explanation I got for the technical foul was, he said, `Where's the foul?'" coach Keno Davis said. "He put his arms somewhat up. It's about as demonstrative as Curry has ever been and that's not very demonstrative."
That momentum swing shifted another victory to the Wildcats.
"I just made a cut to the basket and we got tangled up," Reynolds said. "Away from the play, we're still tangled. We got untangled and he did what he did."
Corey Fisher scored 22 points and Antonio Pena had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Wildcats, who split their last two games against top 10 teams. Villanova started flat against a Providence team in the lower half of the Big East standings. They were sloppy with the ball, committing six turnovers only 8 minutes into the game, and let Providence hang around for most of the half.
The Friars are in the midst of a brutal stretch of their schedule. They lost by nine points to Georgetown, then Villanova, and the next two games are against West Virginia and Syracuse.
About their only consolation is the next two games are at home.
"I try not to think about it very much," Davis said. "After our last game, I actually had to ask to see who we had next."
Peterson kept the Friars within two points on a 3-pointer midway through the second half. If Providence thought it could pull the shocker at the Wachovia Center, the Wildcats had to know one of their usual game-changing runs was ahead.
Reynolds, as he's apt to do, waited until the second half to hit a string of big baskets. His tying 3-pointer and pull-up jumper at the free throw line made it 51-49. He made two free throws for a 53-51 lead, then tossed up a one-handed layup from under the basket for a 56-53 lead.
"We can't slow him down, but I don't know that there's any team out there that can," Davis said.
Reynolds and Fisher made 16 of 29 shots from the field and combined for seven assists.
The Wildcats' record is the envy of most teams, but they're falling into a dangerous pattern of so-so starts while waiting for Reynolds to take over and turn a close game into a double-digit victory.
That works against Seton Hall and Providence, but it could spell trouble in games ahead with Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia.
Reynolds had little explanation for why he gets rolling in the second half.
"You try to give energy, you try to be aggressive and when things aren't going your way, you try and keep a good attitude," he said.