SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Winning the Puerto Rico Tip-Off wasn't easy for Villanova (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP).
Scottie Reynolds scored 21 points to help the Wildcats beat Mississippi 79-67 on Sunday night. Corey Stokes added 18 and Antonio Pena added 17 points and 16 rebounds for the Wildcats, who did nothing to diminish their status as favorites in the Big East during their trip to the Caribbean.
"You know, this tournament is a great tournament with all the teams that are in it," said Reynolds. "[We] haven't really been tested against a tough team, and we beat three tough teams."
Villanova used an 8-0 run in the opening minutes Sunday night and led 27-23 at halftime, holding the Rebels (4-1) to only 29.6 percent shooting from the field.
Wildcats coach Jay Wright said while he was worried about missing players sidelined with injuries, his squad never seemed to struggle.
"It was amazing to me," Wright said. "They didn't blink, and I think it says a lot about these guys and how much they trust each other."
Villanova beat its first two opponents, Farleigh Dickinson and Penn, by a combined 61 points, but needed freshman Isaiah Armwood's 3-pointer with 17 seconds left to edge George Mason 69-68 in Thursday's opening game in Puerto Rico. The next day, the Wildcats nearly blew an 18-point lead to No. 18 Dayton before holding on for a 71-65 victory.
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy praised his team's efforts against Villanova and other tournament opponents, but stressed his players need to improve their rebounding and offensive play.
"Tonight's team was a Top 10 team, and the effort was tremendous," Kennedy said, "and our execution failed us at times and you're not going to be a Top 10 team unless effort and execution are both stellar."
Ole Miss earned its first-ever NCAA tournament win by defeating Villanova 72-70 in 1999 -- the only previous meeting between the schools.