By Annie Ross

Villanova’s Kris Jenkins is a lot lighter than he was when he nailed the 3 that won the NCAA title last April, but his contribution to the Cats this season has a lot of weight.

Jenkins made four 3-pointers, scored 20 points and the Wildcats beat No. 15 Xavier 79-54 last night at the Pavilion.

“The thing I have to live up to is the pressure and commitment to my teammates,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins scored a season-high 23 points last week against Marquette and leads the Wildcats in 3-pointers (shooting 42 percent).

“Every shot feels the same to me,” Jenkins said. “I think it’s good.”

Josh Hart also scored 20 points and the Wildcats (16-1, 4-1 Big East) were dominant in the second half in their first game since their five-week run at No. 1 ended with a loss last week at Butler.

Jalen Brunson scored in transition off a steal and Donte DiVincenzo and Hart each converted three-point plays midway through the second half to help bust the game open.

The Wildcats made 15 of their first 20 shots in the second half and handed Xavier (13-3, 3-1) its first Big East loss.

The Musketeers again struggled in a big game at the Pavilion. The teams split a pair of games last season, each winning at home.

But Xavier had lost its past three games at Villanova by an average of nearly 23 points and cooled after a solid start. Xavier missed 10 straight shots and 14 of 15 overall midway through the first half and lost an eight-point lead.

The national champion Wildcats showed the loss at Butler was just a blip in a season-long tune up toward March.

Brunson scored 11 and DiVincenzo added 10 to help lead coach Jay Wright’s seven-deep rotation. Wright has said he wasn’t as concerned about depth issues wearing down the Wildcats because his players are so versatile.

But it’s also why Wright played his starters until the 2:40 mark and the Wildcats up 26.

Jenkins made four 3s and the Wildcats hit eight overall.

“He has bailed us out a lot over his career,” Wright said.

Edmond Sumner led the Musketeers with 11 points and they ended a six-game winning streak.

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