VILLANOVA, Pa. -- Villanova head coach Jay Wright always breaks down the season into three categories: the preseason, regular season and postseason.
The now-completed preseason has to be considered a major success. Next up, the Big East portion.
Josh Hart had 20 points and seven rebounds to lead five players in double figures as No. 1-ranked Villanova cruised past American 90-48 on Wednesday night at The Pavilion.
Hart made 7 of 14 shots from the field and is now 27 of 47 in the last three games.
"These guys can use a little break right now after Finals and 12 games," Wright said. "We'll get a good three-day break and get back to work. It's like a new season."
Mikal Bridges and Eric Paschall scored 15 points apiece and Jalen Brunson had 14 for the Wildcats, who improved to 12-0 and extended their winning streak to 18 games dating to the six-game run through the NCAA Tournament last season.
Donte DiVincenzo also scored 12 points off the bench for the Wildcats.
"We feel like we're progressing," Hart said. "We're getting better day-by-day. Now we've got a three-day span to rest our bodies and get ready for the Big East season."
Villanova, which extended its program-best overall winning streak, captured its 44th straight victory at its on-campus arena on the Main Line.
After holding on to an 11-point halftime lead, the Wildcats blitzed American 50-19 in the second half. They shot 31 of 53 (58.5 percent) overall and 15 of 24 (62.5 percent) in the second half.
"Coach challenged us at the beginning of the game," Hart said. "We didn't come out, the three seniors, especially me and didn't set the tone early. He challenged us and in the first half we didn't bring it. Before the second half, he challenged us and we had a good talk in the locker room."
Delante Jones led American (3-8) with 12 points. Two-time Patriot League Rookie of the Week Sa'eed Nelson also contributed 11 points for the Eagles, who had their modest two-game winning streak snapped.
"We knew how good they were," American head coach Mike Brennan said of Villanova. "Even if they are bad, they don't play bad. It was a total buzzsaw. I don't think we were ready for it. I thought we hung in there and did some good things. It was just too much for us."
Villanova played its ninth consecutive game without guard Phil Booth, who hasn't been active since Nov. 17 against Western Michigan with left knee tendinitis. Booth led Villanova with 20 points in the national championship victory over North Carolina last season.
The Wildcats pushed their lead to 21 at 56-35 when Brunson hit two free throws with 13:29 left.
Villanova's lead swelled to 65-37 with 9:53 remaining after a long 3-pointer by Kris Jenkins from the wing. Paschall then received a bounce pass from Jenkins and threw down a dunk on its next possession for a 30-point advantage at 67-37.
The Wildcats used an impressive 24-4 spurt to go up by 30.
From there, the rout was on.
With the preseason finished, it's time to look ahead to the rugged Big East.
"I judge our program by what we do in the Big East," Wright said. "If we're at the top of the Big East, then I think our program is in good shape."
The young American team stayed close throughout the first half with efficient offensive sets leading to good shots.
The score was tied at 15 before Villanova embarked on an 11-2 run to go ahead 26-17 with 6:19 remaining.
Hart, a preseason national player of the year candidate, knocked down a short runner in the lane just before the buzzer for a 40-29 Wildcats advantage heading into the locker room.
Hart had 12 points and five rebounds at halftime.
American went 11 of 23 from the floor to remain within striking distance while Jones had 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
NOTES: Villanova moved to No. 1 in the country on Dec. 5 and has won four games since. ... American fell to 0-2 against a No. 1 team. On Dec. 12, 1984, American lost 86-64 to Georgetown. ... The Eagles are 2-60 against Top 25 opponents. ... Coach Jay Wright picked up his 366th career victory at Villanova. ... The Wildcats have a week off until they host DePaul in the Big East opener on Dec. 28.