No. 9 Villanova opens Big East play at Georgetown

NCAA Basketball

No. 9 Villanova will be looking for its third consecutive victory when it travels to Georgetown to open Big East play on Friday.

The Wildcats (4-1) most recently earned an impressive 68-64 road win Sunday at No. 14 Texas. This matchup against the Hoyas will be the first since 1981 at their on-campus arena.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Justin Moore paced Villanova with 19 points apiece at Texas. Jermaine Samuels gave the Wildcats a crucial spark with eight points and 12 rebounds even while playing with a sprained finger on his shooting hand.

Samuels had been questionable with the injury and wound up playing a key role in a tough road victory.

“I am especially proud of Jermaine,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “He did not practice one day (last) week. Our substitute trainer Shawn (Keane), who normally works with the women’s team, made a nice splint for him and he played tough with that damaged finger.”

Following an 81-73 overtime loss to No. 15 Virginia Tech in Uncasville, Conn., on Nov. 28, Villanova has responded with back-to-back wins over Hartford and Texas. The task of winning a third in a row at Georgetown will be difficult.

“Road attitude. That’s one thing we talk about all the time,” Robinson-Earl said. “Just having a great attitude, especially on the road, and trying to stay focused and locked in. Just play for our teammates and coaches and do that for a full 40 minutes.”

Villanova’s depth continues to be tested as it will be without injured reserves Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree and Bryan Antoine. Neither player has appeared in any of the first five games.

Georgetown defeated Coppin State 80-48 on Tuesday to even its record at 2-2.

Jahvon Blair led the way with 22 points while Jamorko Pickett added 19 points and a career-high 18 rebounds.

Blair said that the Hoyas were highly motivated after consecutive losses to Navy and West Virginia.

“We really focused on coming out and getting that win,” Blair said. “All we cared about was winning and that was it. Whatever it took for us to win, we just wanted to do that. Coming back from the other game (West Virginia), coach (Patrick Ewing) really was on us about playing hard for the whole 40.

“We just made sure we came out with the same energy for the whole 40 minutes,” Blair added.

Despite what seemed like an easy 22-point win, the Hoyas struggled for big stretches and finished with 26 turnovers. That’s far too many, especially with a national power such as Villanova up next on the schedule.

“I thought (Tuesday) we even got better,” Ewing said. “It’s still a work in progress, and we have a long way to go. But we’re still working. We have to stop turning the ball over. We made shots. We made our free throws. We have to continue to do that. Guys that get their opportunity, they have to step up and get the job done.”

Blair knocked down four 3-pointers against Coppin State and moved into a tie for eighth place all-time in career treys, passing Mark Tillmon and tying Ashanti Cook with 157.

–Field Level Media

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