Villanova Wildcats

No. 1 Villanova sets school record ... again

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USA Today Images

No. 1 Villanova sets school record ... again

BOX SCORE

The No. 1 team in the nation continued to show why it’s the No. 1 team in the nation.

Led by 21 points from Mikal Bridges and 19 from Jalen Brunson, top-ranked Villanova rolled to a 98-78 Big East win over a good Creighton squad on Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Wildcats (21-1 overall, 8-1 Big East) have now won eight straight following their only loss of the season, a 101-93 setback at Butler on Dec. 30. 

Marcus Foster had a team-high 20 points for Creighton (17-6, 7-4).

• Head coach Jay Wright has been stressing defense in recent weeks but this team just keeps putting on offensive shows. In threatening to score 100 points for the fifth time this season, the Wildcats shot a whopping 54.5 percent from the field and 48.7 percent from three-point range with all five starters hitting double figures. In addition to Bridges and Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo had 17, Omari Spellman 14 and Eric Paschall 11.

• Villanova made 19 three-pointers, which ties the school record that was set earlier this season in a win over St. Joe’s on Dec. 2. 

• Unlike some teams who get rattled or scared vs. ’Nova, Creighton actually seemed up for this game from the start, taking leads of 6-3 and 8-6 before the first media timeout. It’s a testament to Villanova’s relentlessness for not only quickly retaking the lead but also never letting the Bluejays sniff the lead again.

• Villanova showed its three-point touch early in a cool way as four different players hit threes for the team’s first 12 points, including big men Spellman and Paschall.

• Spellman kept hitting threes, shooting 4 for 7 from distance for the game. That’s such a nice advantage when a 6-foot-8, 260-pound player can do that.

• Brunson showed again why he’s a national player of the year candidate. Fresh off a carer-high 31 points in Saturday’s 85-82 win at Marquette, the junior point guard came through with some big shots in the first half, including a four-point play that gave the Wildcats a commanding 40-22 edge. He also scored five points in a row after Creighton tied it up at 18-18 and had 17 points before the break.

• Although Brunson didn’t score as much in the second half, he had a rebound in traffic over 6-foot-11 center Jacob Epperson, got hit, and then threw it off Epperson while falling out of bounds. In many ways, it was a play that epitomizes Brunson, who Xavier coach Chris Mack recently said probably has “wires coming out” of his face.

• Bridges, who looks more and more like a lottery pick every day, is just so smooth when he pulls up for a jumper off the dribble. And his athletic drive late in the first half helped ’Nova take a 49-34 lead into halftime, from which Creighton would never recover.

• The bench play without Phil Booth (fractured bone in right hand) will likely be a concern as the Wildcats roll into March. But freshmen Collin Gillespie (eight points) and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (six points) did a lot of good things as the only two guys Wright brought in off the bench. Gillespie hit a couple of threes and had five assists. And in one quick spurt in the second half, Cosby-Roundtree had a block, an offensive rebound and a defensive rebound (though he did miss a close-range shot). 

• One example of how much the Wildcats were clicking on offense: they had 13 assists on 19 field goals in the first half.

• The media members got a special visit from Creighton’s Toby Hegner, who crashed into press row in the first half. Only a cup of soda was injured in the fray.

• Some of the biggest cheers in the game came when Villanova’s walk-ons got some nice run in the final two minutes and senior Matt Kennedy hit a basket in the lane.

• This is the sixth consecutive season, and the 13th time in the past 14 years, that Villanova has recorded 20 or more victories in a season. Thursday’s win was their 150th, against only 18 losses, since the start of the 2013-14 season. That’s, um, really good.

• Wright won his 407th game at Villanova, moving to within six of the program’s all-time wins leader, Alexander Severance.

• Interestingly enough, Creighton’s last trip to the Wells Fargo Center produced a stunning 96-68 rout of then-No. 4 Villanova. Led by Ethan Wragge and Doug McDermott, the Bluejays went 9 for 9 on three-pointers on their first nine possessions and finished with a school-record 21 for the game.

• This is a big week for Villanova, which returns to the Wells Fargo Center to host Seton Hall at noon on Super Bowl Sunday. Along with Xavier, Seton Hall and Creighton are probably the only teams with a real shot of knocking Villanova off its Big East perch.

• The Wildcats then stay home to face last-place St. John’s and Butler to round out a four-game homestand.

Big run at end of 1st half lifts No. 10 Villanova over Ohio

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AP Images/Laurence Kesterson

Big run at end of 1st half lifts No. 10 Villanova over Ohio

BOX SCORE 

Less than 72 hours after a humbling loss to one team from Ohio, Villanova used two of its young standouts to win against another squad from the Buckeye State.

Saddiq Bey scored 19 points and Justin Moore added 18 to lead No. 10 Villanova past Ohio 78-54 on Saturday.

The win came after a 76-51 road loss to No. 16 Ohio State on Wednesday night. Villanova fell behind the Buckeyes early and never recovered.

"In that game, we kind of backed down," Moore said. "We learned that you have to come out and you have to keep fighting. That's what Villanova does and that's what we were able to do today."

After a sluggish start Saturday, Villanova (2-1) broke the game open with a 27-4 run in the final 6:36 of the half, turning a one-point deficit into a 43-21 lead.

Bey and Moore combined for 9-for-12 shooting and 4 of 6 from beyond the 3-point line for 26 points in that run. The Wildcats finished 14 of 31 from long range.

"I thought we had just two or three bad three-point attempts today," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "I think the numbers are a reflection of Justin and Saddiq moving the ball and getting good shot opportunities."

Ohio shot 3 of 20 from behind the arc, with its first conversion from Ben Vander Plas three minutes into the second half after a 0-for-10 start. The Bobcats committed 16 turnovers.

Vander Plas led the Bobcats (3-1) with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Jason Preston added 16 points and eight assists.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had 11 points and 11 rebounds and Colin Gillespie scored 10 points for Villanova.

"I told our guys that with the exception of that seven-minute stretch at the end of the first half, we played pretty even with them" Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. "Against a team like (Villanova), the margin for error is pretty small. It was a good teaching moment for our guys."

Big picture 

Villanova: After losing by 25 at Ohio State on Wednesday night in the Gavitt Games, Villanova is likely to take a slight dip in the next AP rankings.

Ohio: After starting the season 3-0 with road wins against St. Bonaventure and Iona, the Bobcats had trouble dealing with Villanova's forwards.

Up next 

Villanova: Plays Middle Tennessee on Thursday in Myrtle Beach Invitational in Conway, South Carolina.

Ohio: Plays No. 24 Baylor on Thursday in the Myrtle Beach Invitatio

No. 10 Villanova falls flat in blowout loss to No. 18 Ohio State

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USA Today Images/Joe Maiorana

No. 10 Villanova falls flat in blowout loss to No. 18 Ohio State

BOX SCORE 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Not even Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann saw this coming.

His 18th-ranked Buckeyes looked NCAA Tournament-ready in their third game, racing out to a big lead, playing solid defense and smothering No. 10 Villanova 76-51 on Wednesday night for a significant early-season victory.

"Probably two or three times have I ever been part of a game as a head coach where almost everything kind of goes your way," Holtmann said. "And that's reality. Very rarely do you have games like that."

Ohio State (3-0) came out firing, with Duane Washington Jr. opening the game with a pair of 3s and CJ Walker adding another for a quick 9-0 lead. The Buckeyes bolted to a 19-3 lead, led by as many as 27 and held a 40-22 advantage at the intermission of this Gavitt Tipoff Game, a November series that matches up the Big Ten and the Big East.

"We knew we had to have a big start because we've been starting games off slow," said freshman guard D.J. Carton, who finished with 11 points and was one of five Ohio State players to reach double figures.

Villanova didn't show signs of life until a 9-0 run late in the first half. But Kyle Young started the second half with a dunk and the Buckeyes never backed off the gas, leading by as many as 30.

"Our players' preparation and their play was the reason for tonight's win," Holtmann said. "I thought across the board they were really ready for this game."

Washington led the Buckeyes with 14 points on 4-for-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Luther Muhammad had 11 points and Kaleb Wesson added 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Cold Wildcats 

Villanova never could find its shot.

The Wildcats hit 30.6 percent from the floor, including 10 of 30 from 3-point range. They were held to a dozen points in the first 16 minutes, and the Buckeyes consistently controlled play in the paint.

Jermaine Samuels had 14 points and Cole Swider had 11 for the Wildcats (1-1).

"We have a lot to learn," said coach Jay Wright, whose teams have won two national championships in the past five seasons.

"These guys have to learn to play together," he said. "They have to learn to trust each other."

Big picture 

Villanova: Starting a pair of freshmen, Villanova could never catch up with the hustling Buckeyes. The crowd in Columbus chanted "overrated," which could be the case.

"There's things we should have been prepared for," Wright said. "(Ohio State) was prepared. We as a staff have to go back and look at what are we doing. Do we have too much stuff in, where basic concepts are not really dialed in on?"

Ohio State: Most everything was clicking in the Buckeyes' third game of the season. If they can sustain it, they should be able to play with nearly any team in the country.

"Tonight was one of those nights where it was just flowing," said Walker, who had 10 points.

Poll implications 

Ohio State should take a big leap, while Villanova can expect to drop out of the top 10.

Tip-ins

The 25-point margin of victory over an AP Top 10 team was the largest for the Buckeyes since March 6, 2011, when they beat Wisconsin 93-65. ... Wesson had his second double-double in three games. ... The Buckeyes are 3-0 in Gavitt Tipoff games. The Wildcats fell to 2-2 in the event.

Up next 

Villanova: Hosts Ohio on Saturday.

Ohio State: Hosts Stetson on Monday.