Jan. 29, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Villanova Wildcats hope to build on the momentum of consecutive victories over Top 5 teams when they visit Notre Dame for a BIG EAST clash here on Wednesday evening. Tip-off is set for 6:00 p.m. at the Purcell Pavilion (ESPN2/1340 WHAT Radio).
Last week, Villanova upended No. 5 Louisville 73-64 and No. 3 Syracuse 75-71 in overtime. Both of those games, though, were played in friendly surroundings at the Wells Fargo Center. The game against the Fighting Irish will be played here.
"We put together two great efforts and that was a good step for a young team," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "But there are other things we have to improve upon. We've got to go out to Notre Dame and go on the road and we have to play with the same kind of efficiency, this same type of intelligence, consistency. That's the key. As long as we keep getting better, good things will happen."
The honors have rolled in since. Dick Vitale named the Wildcats his team of the week. Darrun Hilliard was honored Tuesday as national Player of the Week by the United States Basketball Writers Association. One day earlier he was named BIG EAST Player of the Week and Philadelphia Big Five Co-Player of the Week.
Villanova has made its most substantial improvement at the defensive end of the court in January. After surrendering 86 points to St. John's in its BIG EAST opener in a 98-86 overtime victory, the Wildcats have amped up the defensive heat. In the six games since that point, opponents have connected on just .366 of their attempts from the field.
The Wildcats improved perimeter defense will face a stern test in this matchup. The Irish drained 12-of-31 from beyond the 3-point arc in last season's 74-70 overtime victory over the Wildcats on Feb. 18, 2012 at the Wells Fargo Center.
When the `Cats visited this building in 2011, Notre Dame rolled to a 93-72 victory behind the explosive scoring of Ben Hansbrough. This season, the Fighting Irish are the BIG EAST's most efficient offensive team, connecting on 50 percent of their field goal attempts en route to a 16-4 overall record, 4-3 BIG EAST.
Since Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST in 1995, however, the Wildcats have taken six of nine games played in Indiana.
Following this contest, the Wildcats are scheduled to return to Philadelphia. Up next for Villanova is a Sunday home date at the Pavilion with Providence (6 ABC/610 WIP Radio).