Villanova will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak when it hosts Marquette on Wednesday.
After ascending to No. 10, the Wildcats (17-6, 7-4 Big East) have since dropped home games to Creighton and Seton Hall and a road contest at Butler when Kamar Baldwin hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Saddiq Bey led the Wildcats with 22 points, but they shot just 36.1 percent and fell 70-64 to the Pirates last Saturday.
No. 15-ranked Villanova, which doesn’t feature one scholarship senior, will have another difficult challenge against the No. 18-ranked Golden Eagles.
“We’re going to try to win the next game,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “Once you go back to work, you don’t think about it as a three-game slide. You do now. Once we go back to practice, we just think about getting better the next day.
“It’s the same way if we have a three-game winning streak. You just concentrate on your next game.”
The Wildcats started 10-0 at home before recent losses to Creighton and Seton Hall. This home matchup against Marquette will take place at their cozy arena on Philadelphia’s Main Line.
“We have to play better to beat one of the best teams in the country,” Wright said. “We didn’t today. We’ll be OK. We’ll get better.”
Villanova shot 9 of 27 from beyond the arc, with Collin Gillespie going 0 for 5.
Despite the poor shooting and three-game skid, the Wildcats are well on their way to an eighth straight NCAA Tournament appearance and 15th in the last 16 years.
Marquette (17-6, 7-4) will be attempting to stay hot, as it is in search of a fourth straight victory.
The Golden Eagles have won at Xavier and at home against DePaul and Butler heading into this key matchup at Villanova.
In its last game, Marquette rolled past the Bulldogs, 76-57, on Sunday behind Markus Howard’s 17 points and 16 each from Koby McEwen and Brendan Bailey.
Howard is only four points from tying former Boston College standout Troy Bell’s career Big East scoring mark of 1,388. In addition, Howard trails the Big East leader — former Syracuse star Lawrence Moten, who recorded 1,405 points.
More than statistics, Marquette continues to pile up wins at the right time. It has won six of seven overall to vault into the national rankings.
“We needed the bye week badly,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “Obviously I was not pleased with our defense heading into the bye week. By a long shot. The bye week did give us a chance to rest some guys that have been battered and bruised. But, more than anything, that gave us a chance to get back and work on our defense.”
Howard, the leading scorer in the country at 27.4 points per game, always draws so much attention from the defense. It also has opened up opportunities for his teammates.
“It’s always fun playing with a player like Markus,” Bailey told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He’s the best scorer in the country and teams know that so they’re going to focus their defense around Markus. And that’s when everybody else has to step up. When someone’s open and gets the ball, we got to be ready to shoot. We just got to find the open spots on the floor.”
–Field Level Media