No. 12 Villanova on roll as it awaits St. John’s

NCAA Basketball
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No. 12 Villanova on roll as it awaits St. John’s

Villanova will be searching for its fifth consecutive victory when it hosts St. John’s on Wednesday.

The No. 12-ranked Wildcats improved to 21-6 overall, and 10-4 in the Big East, following an impressive 64-55 win at Xavier on Saturday.

Saddiq Bey continued his strong play with 22 points while Jermaine Samuels added 17 points and eight rebounds. Justin Moore had 13 points and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl grabbed 12 rebounds for the hot Wildcats.

Moore and Robinson-Earl, both freshmen, are contributing quite a bit to a team that doesn’t feature one scholarship senior.

“Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was amazing,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “He’s got good size, good quickness and I thought he did a good job of matching (Xavier’s Tyrique) Jones, who has both those things. We weren’t sure he could do that.”

Villanova has won in a variety of ways this season, most recently with stellar 3-point shooting. Against Xavier, the shots weren’t falling yet the Wildcats found a way to come up with another gritty conference win.

“That was a good win for us,” Wright said. “Xavier is definitely an NCAA Tournament-caliber team. I thought our defense was really good — maybe our best defensive effort of the year. They did a good job defensively, too. We couldn’t get [guard] Collin Gillespie going. We kind of had to piecemeal it, find ways to get buckets. That’s what a good team does. I’m proud of our guys.”

St. John’s dropped to 14-13 overall and 3-11 in the Big East after falling 81-65 to host Seton Hall on Sunday.

LJ Figueroa paced the Red Storm with 19 points while Julian Champagnie registered his third double-double with 14 points and a career-best 11 rebounds.

St. John’s has lost two straight and five of six entering this matchup against the Wildcats.

“The last couple of games, I feel like we’ve took steps forward,” Champagnie said. “Even though we’ve lost two of the last three games, I thought we took steps forward. We’re coming together as a team. In the Xavier game, we played well for 30 minutes. Those last two minutes we kind of gave it away. Stuff like that helps us learn how to close out games.

“Right now, it’s still a learning process. We’re still a young team.”

After a promising start this season, the skidding Red Storm are in danger of falling all the way to .500 with another loss at Villanova.

The task of winning on the road against Seton Hall was challenging. They’ll have another tough task looming against the Wildcats.

“As bad as we played in the first half, we turned it over, we missed layups, a few air balls, the nerves were going, but I thought in the second half we came out with a bit more fight in us,” St. John’s head coach Mike Anderson said. “We cut it down to single digits and then they would make a big play. That’s what good teams do. Can’t knock the effort of our guys; we just went against a better team.”

–Field Level Media

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