Feb. 11, 2014
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The Villanova Wildcats (21-2 overall, 9-1 BIG EAST) begin to tackle a daunting stretch of their schedule when they play the first of three consecutive BIG EAST road games on Wednesday night at DePaul (8:00 p.m./Fox Sports 1 and CBS Sports Radio 610).
The Wildcats defeated the Blue Demons (10-14 overall, 2-9 BIG EAST) on Jan. 18 at the Pavilion 88-62 and are 4-1 lifetime at AllState Arena. But that mark includes an overtime victory in 2011 and several other gritty affairs at the facility in Rosemont, Ill.
"For whatever reason, it's been a tough place for us to play," noted Villanova head coach Jay Wright, who picked up his 400th career victory in the Feb. 7 win over Seton Hall. "They've got good athletes, and like most teams, they tend to shoot the ball better at home. We've had some tough games there.
"That's the value of having a James Bell, a Darrun Hilliard, a JayVaughn Pinkston. They have been in tough games there - they know what it's like." Villanova is 5-0 in BIG EAST road action this season and 7-1 overall.
"We probably haven't played as well on the road as we have at home, but we've played well enough," stated Wright. "That's what it is on the road. You've got to survive. For whatever reason, things go against you on the road and you have to be able to ready to deal with that. That's what this team has done a good job of. We have a very strong will and dealt with nights when we haven't made shots, (faced) some tough calls, or teams that got hot."
After having a 46-game run of holding opponents below 50 percent field goal accuracy, the Wildcats watched both Creighton and Marquette rise above that mark in late January outings. In the four games since, however, all wins, the Wildcats have tightened up at the defensive end of the court. Against Seton Hall, they allowed the fewest points (53) they have in any of the 10 BIG EAST games they have played thus far.
Wright believes there has been progress made but still seems room for more strides to be taken by his squad at the defensive end.
"I think our perimeter defense is getting better, we're defending the three a little bit better," he said. "But I do think we can still get better."
The second part of Villanova's mid- February road swing comes on Sunday, when the Wildcats visit Omaha to face No. 18 Creighton in a BIG EAST showdown (5 p.m./Fox Sports 1/CBS Sports Radio 610). Then it's off to Providence for a clash next Tuesday evening against the Friars at 7 p.m.
"We talk about the next game and that's what we're focused on," Wright stated.
Follow Villanova Basketball on social media
Twitter: @NovaMBB #NovaMBB