Feb. 14, 2014
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The No. 6 Villanova Wildcats open a new chapter in their BIG EAST history on Sunday when they pay their first visit to Omaha to take on No. 18 Creighton in a duel of the two teams atop the league standings.
The Bluejays (20-4 overall, 10-2 BIG EAST) opened the first meeting between these two squads with seven consecutive made 3-point field goals and rolled to a 96-68 win on Jan. 20 at the Wells Fargo Center. Villanova (22-2 overall, 10-1 BIG EAST), meanwhile, has bounced back from that setback with six consecutive victories.
Now comes round two on Sunday at CenturyLink Center (5:00 p.m. eastern time/Fox Sports 1 and CBS Sports Radio 610).
"(Creighton) exposed a lot of areas where we were not good enough in that game," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "There had been a lot of (earlier) games where our offense had covered for our defense. In that game, we were just as bad offensively, which got them out in transition, which exposed our transition defense.
"It was a great learning experience for us to know that we had to get a lot better defensively. And we had to get better offensively, believe it or not. We had to find ways on nights when we weren't making shots, to score. I think it helped us to develop our inside game and we've worked a lot on our transition defense. I am still not convinced it's good enough yet but this is going to be a test."
The Bluejays connected on 21-of-35 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc in the first meeting. Ethan Wragge led the way, draining nine for 27 points. National player of the year candidate Doug McDermott added 23 points and five rebounds.
"In the back of your mind, you know you're going to have to go on the road against a team that beat you by (nearly) 40," stated Wright. "In the front of my mind, I really want to teach (our) guys how important every game is. As big as this game is, after this we have to go to Providence. Whatever you do (on Sunday), the Providence game is going to be big.
"Because of that, I am really proud of our effort at DePaul. People are talking about the Creighton game. It's natural. When I'm watching the tape of our DePaul game, they are talking about the Creighton game during the DePaul (telecast). I was just really proud of our guys' ability to get to the next game.
"This one for (the players) is easy - I know they're going to concentrate on this one. But for a team to go in and concentrate like they did against DePaul is impressive to me."
The Wildcats built a 48-31 halftime lead over the Blue Demons and glided to an 87-62 win on Wednesday night at Allstate Arena. Junior Darrun Hilliard paced VU with 22 points as the `Cats drained 15-of-25 3-point field goal attempts, a season-high.
Villanova's defense, which has allowed 61.4 ppg in its last five outings, will be challenged by a fluid and potent Bluejay attack.
"I think a lot of people in the league watched that game and learned how not to play them," states Wright. "We went after them very aggressively - we trapped, we just did everything really aggressively, and they sliced it. I think everybody realized that is not the way to play them. Now we've got to adjust."
The third and final contest in this span of road games comes Tuesday night in Providence, when the Wildcats face the Friars in a contest that begins at 7 p.m. (Fox Sports 1). Following that contest, VU will play four of its final five regular season games at the Wells Fargo Center or Pavilion.
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