Providence, RI (SportsNetwork.com) - Ryan Arcidiacono's layup and foul shot -- the last of his team-high 21 points -- with 3.6 seconds remaining was the deciding margin, as No. 9 Villanova kept rolling with a 82-79 double-OT decision against Providence on Tuesday.
Arcidiacono, a threat from the outside, was instead allowed room on the left wing and banked the go-ahead bucket off the glass while being harmed by Kadeem Batts.
Quick ball movement off the inbound put the game in the hands of LaDontae Henton, but his try from the left wing to send the game to a third overtime clanged off the front of the rim.
JayVaughn Pinkston totaled 20 points and six rebounds for the Wildcats (23-3, 11-2 Big East), who received 17 points and nine boards from James Bell.
Villanova pulled into a tie atop the conference with idle Creighton, who whipped the Cats, 101-80, in Omaha on Sunday.
"Great college basketball game, great atmosphere, great fans, and Providence played great, so did we," Villanova coach Jay Wright said.
Bryce Cotton tallied a game-best 22 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Friars (17-10, 7-7). Batts picked up 21 points and 11 boards, with Josh Fortune adding 16 points in a valiant, losing cause.
"It was a game that whoever had the ball last was probably going to win," Providence coach Ed Cooley said.
A 13-2 run ending just before the middle portion of the first half turned a two-point deficit into a nine-point bulge for the Friars. Tyler Harris capped it on a trey to make it 22-13.
Arcidiacono's triple capped a 15-7 surge from the Wildcats to pull them within 29-28, and he connected once more from long distance in the final seconds. Cotton, though, hit two from the line to forge a 33-33 deadlock at the break.
'Nova provided some breathing room with a quick burst in the early stages of the second half, going up 44-39 just over six minutes in on a Daniel Ochefu slam.
Villanova kept Providence at arm's length from there, never letting the hosts climb closer than three until the final moments.
Arcidiacono's two from the line provided a 63-58 edge for the Wildcats, but two free throws from Cotton and a three from Henton off a Bell miss evened the score with 20.6 seconds to go.
Arcidiacono's last chance from beyond the arc came up short, and Henton's off- balance heave at the buzzer hit the rim.
In the first extra session, Villanova erased a three-point deficit and went up by two on a Darrun Hilliard trey, but Cotton's layup on the next trip down the floor evened the score. Arcidiacono missed an easy shot and the game slipped into a second OT.