Jan. 18, 2013
PROVIDENCE, R. I. - The Villanova Wildcats visit the Dunkin Donuts Center for a clash with Providence at 4:00 p.m. Saturday. The Wildcats are 11-6 overall, 2-2 in the BIG EAST while the Friars are 9-8 overall, 1-4 in BIG EAST action.
Villanova hopes to bounce back from a 58-43 loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday night at the Pavilion. The Panthers scored the final 15 points of that contest over the last five minutes of the game. Pitt limited the Wildcats to the fewest points scored on their home court since the Pavilion opened on Feb. 1, 1986.
Providence, meanwhile, dropped a 69-62 decision at Georgetown.
Villanova head coach Jay Wright believes one reason visiting teams have had so much success in the first two weeks of conference action is the quality defensive work being done.
"One reason I think you see teams playing well on the road is that there are so many great defensive teams in our league," stated Wright. "You can always count on good defense whereas great offensive teams don't always shoot as well when they are on the road.
"Providence is a great example of it. Their defense has been outstanding."
Indeed, the Friars have limited opponents to 64.1 ppg. They can also call on the explosive scoring of Bryce Cotton (21.6 ppg) and LaDontae Henton (15.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg).
The Wildcats, meanwhile, were stymied offensively by Pitt. Villanova scored a season-low 14 field goals and went to the free throw line 14 times - also a season low. The 43 points were the fewest the `Cats have scored since March 12, 2003 in a 46-41 loss to Georgetown in the BIG EAST Tournament.
Sophomore Darrun Hilliard was the only Villanova player to reach double figures in points with 14 against the Panthers. The Wildcats also hope to regain a rebounding edge that saw them out-rebound their first three BIG EAST opponents by 29 caroms (the Panthers owned a 39-27 edge on the glass Wednesday).
Providence won the last meeting between these two squads at the Dunkin Donuts Center on Jan. 26, 2011 (83-68). Villanova returned the favor as it rallied from a double-digit halftime deficit to deliver a 74-72 victory on Feb. 7, 2012 at the Pavilion. JayVaughn Pinkston posted career highs in points (28) and rebounds (14) that night.
Following their visit to Providence, Villanova is scheduled to return to Philadelphia and prepare for a pair of home dates against top 10 teams next week at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wildcats host Louisville, currently ranked No. 1, on Tuesday evening (8:00 p.m./PHL 17 and 610 WIP Radio) and then welcome Syracuse to town on Saturday at 11 a.m. (ESPNU and 610 WIP Radio).
Syracuse and Louisville meet Saturday afternoon in Kentucky.