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Four weeks ago, Providence coach Pete Gillen was exasperated when his team was embarrassed in a 17-point loss to in-state rival Rhode Island, and the Friars' record dropped to 5-3.

Gillen's team appeared selfish and unmotivated, and preseason predictions of its first NCAA tournament berth in three years seemed farfetched.Not anymore.

The Friars (11-3, 3-1 Big East) have won six straight games, beating Wisconsin on the road and winning at home last week against then-No. 18 Texas and St. John's.

On Monday night, the Friars played their best game of the season, thrashing No. 8 Villanova 91-68.

"We just couldn't have played a lot better than we did tonight," Gillen said. "I thought we were improving subtly, but I certainly didn't expect to beat a team like Villanova by 20 points. I thought we were getting better, but I never dreamed we would win a game like this by this margin."

Providence used a 15-0 run that straddled halftime to build a 48-29 lead, and Villanova (11-2, 3-1) got no closer than 16 points the rest of the way.

Austin Croshere had 27 points and 10 rebounds and Ruben Garces added a career-high 19 points for Providence, while Derrick Brown scored 18 points, Jamel Thomas 14 and point guard God Shammgod added 11 assists against only one turnover.

Villanova, which shot 38 percent from the field, was led by freshman Tim Thomas' 17 points.

Villanova entered the game averaging 11 more rebounds than its opponents, but the Friars dominated inside, particularly on the offensive end, where they held a 19-13 advantage.

No. 1 Kansas 86, No. 22 Texas 61

The Jayhawks (14-0, 2-0 Big 12) struggled again with their shooting, but held Texas to one field goal in the final 9:12. The visiting Longhorns (7-4, 1-1) led 41-39 with 14:27 to play, but Kansas went on a 15-3 run and pulled away. Paul Pierce had 17 points for Kansas, and Raef LaFrentz added 15. Reggie Freeman led Texas with 22 points. The Jayhawks, who shot 29 percent in its 62-59 victory over Kansas State on Saturday, missed their first seven shots and at one point were just 3-of-17 from the field. The Jayhawks finished the first half shooting 24 percent (7-of-29).

No. 14 Louisville 92,

N.C. Charlotte 81

DeJuan Wheat scored 21 points and the Cardinals (12-1, 2-0 Conference USA) improved on their best start in 22 years while moving coach Denny Crum within one victory of 600 for his career. DeMarco Johnson had 27 points and nine rebounds for the 49ers (8-4, 0-1), who lost for the first time in six games in their new Dale F. Halton Arena.