“We’ve made strides on the defensive end,” Collin Gillespie said. “We really try to lock in. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of defending and rebounding in the last few games but we’re still looking to get better.”
By Annie Ross
Collin Gillespie isn’t playing like a sophomore guard for Villanova, which goes for its 11th tonight against Creighton.
The No. 14-ranked Wildcats (18-4, 9-0) are coming off a 77-65 victory over Georgetown on Sunday and are the only conference team without a loss.
Gillespie led the way with a career-high 30 points, but it was the suffocating Villanova defense which tightened down the stretch and sparked another triumph.
Senior Eric Paschall added 24 points and sophomore Jermaine Samuels had a career-high 16 rebounds, the most by a Villanova player since Daniel Ochefu pulled down 18 boards at Seton Hall in 2014.
“I feel like our sophomores, who are young guys, are starting to step up,” Wildcats coach Jay Wright said. “We need it and that’s what a season is. By this point in the season sophomores and freshmen are different than when they started the year. I think ours are starting to get it.”
Senior Phil Booth also had 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting while playing a stellar defensive game.
“That was a great defensive game on Georgetown’s part,” Wright said. “I know it looks like Phil didn’t make shots, but they were just really good defensively. They’re physical and long. They did a great job in ball screens.”
Creighton (13-9, 4-5) posted a convincing 76-54 home win against Xavier on Sunday. The 22-point victory gave head coach Greg McDermott his 200th career win at the school.
Martin Krampelj matched his career-high with 23 points and added four steals. Marcus Zegarowksi had 13 points but suffered a broken bone in his right hand and it’s unclear if he’ll be able to play Wednesday.
“You’d have to cut his hand off for him not to play,” McDermott told the Omaha World-Herald. “We were going to shut him down at halftime, but we talked with him and actually had his folks come (to the locker room). They’re some tough, hard-nosed people.”
The short-handed Bluejays could also be without senior Connor Cashaw (shoulder) and sophomore Damien Jefferson (ankle).
Creighton attempted only 15 shots from beyond the arc yet shot a sizzling 58 percent from the field with solid ball movement.
“It’s obviously a different look for us,” guard Mitch Ballock told the World-Herald. “This game, we took advantage of mismatches. We threw it in and just went to work inside out. We just went to what was working.”
The Bluejays entered the game against Xavier ranked fourth in the country in 3-point shooting, knocking down nearly 42 percent of their shots.