Villanova will be looking to rebound from a tough road loss at Marquette with an even more daunting challenge Tuesday at Creighton.
The No. 16-ranked Wildcats (10-3, 1-1 in Big East) fell 71-60 Saturday against the Golden Eagles largely because of poor shooting. Villanova shot just 35.3 percent and made only 9 of 38 shots from beyond the 3-point arc.
Head coach Jay Wright was concerned about these types of difficult road games — especially with a young team featuring two freshmen starters for the first time since 2002.
Guard Justin Moore and forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl are going through the rigorous Big East for the first time.
“I think one thing our young guys saw is that when you get down, you’ve got to continue to make the right play,” Wright said. “You don’t want guys feeling like they have to go make a play themselves. It’s important to stick to the game plan and make the right decisions offensively.”
Another freshman, Bryan Antoine, had two points on 0-for-6 shooting. Antoine has slowly earned playing time after recently returning from shoulder surgery.
With such a young group, playing on the road in the Big East is going to be a learning experience every time out.
“This league is going to be incredible,” Wright said. “You’re going to need to be mentally tough this season. You can’t let one game affect your performance in the next. We didn’t play well at Marquette. But I think teams are going to go on the road this year, play well, and still lose.
“You’ve got to keep a positive vibe on your team. I think that’s going to be more important than ever.”
Creighton had its eight-game winning streak snapped following a 71-57 loss at then-No. 11 Butler on Saturday.
The Bluejays will enter this matchup with an impressive 12-3 overall mark, including 1-1 in the league.
Marcus Zegarowski led Creighton with 15 points, Damien Jefferson added 12 and Ty-Shon Alexander had 11. But the Bluejays missed 18 of their 22 treys and ultimately fell for the first time in nine games.
Creighton will be facing a ranked team for the third time this season. The loss at Butler dropped the Bluejays to 1-1 against ranked teams, having also beaten then-No. 12 Texas Tech in overtime in late November.
The Bluejays have been especially potent at home, making the game against Villanova even more enticing. They have won 15 in a row at home, dating to last season.
“It’s going to be tough to get wins on the road. You have to try to do your best to protect your home floor,” Creighton head coach Greg McDermott told the Omaha World-Herald. “Obviously, we’ve got one of the best home courts in the country.”
“(Our fans) are the best,” Zegarowski added. “I’m excited to play in front of them, to try and win one for them as well.”
Though Creighton’s four treys against Butler tied a season low, it has continued to be consistent beyond the arc.
The Bluejays have knocked down at least one 3-pointer in 866 straight games and at least one triple before halftime in 237 consecutive games.
–Field Level Media