No. 10 Villanova hopes shooting touch returns vs. No. 14 Creighton

NCAA Basketball

Villanova usually can count on at least one of its players to make some clutch shots from beyond the arc.

In their last game, the Wildcats went collectively cold.

To secure a solid seed in the NCAA Tournament, they will need to be more consistent with their long-range shooting when they host No. 14 Creighton on Wednesday night.

No. 10 Villanova shot 2 of 27 on 3-pointers, with 14 straight misses to end the game, in a disappointing 73-61 loss at Butler Sunday. It was the worst shooting performance on 3-pointers since going 1 of 11 against Penn on Dec. 28, 2015.

“I think that when you’re a really good team, you find ways on those nights, find other ways to get to the foul line, get some offensive rebounds, play good defense,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “And we just haven’t gotten there yet as a team. I think we can.”

The Wildcats (15-4, 10-3 Big East) missed a number of open looks, but Butler’s perimeter defense was suffocating, too.

“Their guys were doing a good job of staying on their line, staying with their man and making us shoot tough twos and contested threes,” Villanova guard Collin Gillespie said. “They did a really good job on the defensive end just pressuring the ball and staying with guys off the ball, showing help and making sure they got back.”

“Teams that get up in us and are physical have bothered us. It affected us,” Wright added.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl did produce his fourth double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds.

Villanova fell 86-70 Feb. 13 at Creighton in the first meeting. But it is 8-0 at home this season.

Creighton will look for its fifth win in the past six games.

After a four-game winning streak, the Bluejays (17-6, 13-5) were upended 77-69 by Xavier last Saturday.

Damien Jefferson led the way with 19 points and Marcus Zegarowski added 15. Denzel Mahoney and Mitch Ballock had 11 apiece.

Despite the loss at Xavier, the Bluejays will try to win their program-best eighth road game at Villanova.

“We haven’t had many shortcomings on the road this year,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “We got beat by a team that played really well.”

If the Bluejays win their remaining games, they’ll capture the Big East regular season championship. It certainly won’t be easy, especially with Villanova looking to avenge an earlier 16-point loss.

For Creighton to win, it will need to play much better than it did against Xavier.

“We just didn’t quite have it on both ends (Saturday),” McDermott said. “I don’t think we were that far away. Our problems are certainly fixable. That’s what we’ll do in practice the next couple days.”

Creighton’s struggles from the free-throw line continued as it went 8 for 16.

If the Bluejays can improve in this area, and defeat Villanova and Butler, they’ll earn the program’s first outright Big East title.

Last season, Creighton, Villanova and Seton Hall finished in a three-way tie for first place.

–Field Level Media

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