Villanova will be looking for its second consecutive victory when it battles rival Georgetown on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.
The 16th-ranked Wildcats (11-3, 2-1 Big East) will bring positive momentum into this matchup following a gritty 64-59 win Tuesday night at Creighton. They rallied from a 14-point deficit to pull out the five-point win.
Junior guard Collin Gillespie led the way with 24 points despite playing part of the second half with an apparent leg cramp.
“I think we did a good job of keeping guys in front of us this game compared to last game (a 71-60 loss at Marquette),” Gillespie said. “We got back to work and did a good job of staying in our triangles.”
Gillespie was 4 of 5 from beyond the 3-point arc. The rest of the team went 2 for 28.
Yet this young group of Wildcats tightened up defensively and found a way to pull out a difficult road win.
“That was our best defensive effort against one of the best offensive teams in the country,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “(Creighton head coach) Greg McDermott is one of the great offensive minds in our game. Playing them is torture. That’s why I’m so proud of our guys.”
This will be the first of four straight home games for Villanova mixed between its home courts in Philadelphia and on the Main Line.
Last season, the Wildcats and Hoyas split a pair of meetings with each team winning at home.
To continue winning, Villanova will need another stellar defensive effort, albeit against a depleted group of Hoyas.
“That’s what we do,” Gillespie told Inquirer.com. “That’s Villanova basketball, coming into an opponent’s arena, just staying 94 by 50 feet with your brothers and your coaches and knowing that there’s going to be ups and downs throughout the game, just battle for a full 40 minutes.”
Even with some off-the-court issues and a reduced roster, Georgetown continues to be a big surprise. It easily defeated St. John’s 87-66 on Wednesday and improved to 11-5 overall and 1-2 in the Big East.
Mac McClung had another impressive offensive effort with 24 points for his sixth game this season of 20 points or more. Jamorko Pickett added 18 points, a career-high 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. Terrell Allen scored 16 points and Jagan Mosely had 12 while Omer Yurtseven contributed 10 points and 11 rebounds.
“It was a great win. Any win in the Big East is a good win, especially coming off the two losses that we had,” Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing told reporters. “We still would love Omer to play a little better but the way they play — frenetic — it was a little hard for him to get touches.”
All five starters scored in double figures and provided some rare balance for the Hoyas.
“The biggest thing was our defense sparked our offense,” McClung told the Washington Post. “When you have guys like Jagan and Terrell — fourth — and fifth-year guys, you can’t say enough good things about them.
“They always make the right play. Playing with those guys is like a dream come true.”
Georgetown will be looking to pull even in league after losses to Providence and Seton Hall before the win over St. John’s.
–Field Level Media