”We learned that it’s really hard to have a week off after getting your butt kicked,” coach Jay Wright said.
By Sam Bush
Jalen Brunson had 27 points and eight assists and No. 3 Villanova bounced back from its first loss of the season by holding off Marquette 100-90.
Eric Paschall added 19 points and Mikal Bridges had 18 points and seven rebounds for the Wildcats (14-1, 2-1 Big East), who never trailed and shot 56 percent from the field to give Wright his 400th win at Villanova.
The Wildcats sank 27 of 32 free throws and got assists on 20 of 32 baskets.
”It’s really hard, for a lot of reasons. No one is in a good mood, you want to play another game,” Wright said. ”It was a rough week.”
Villanova, which hasn’t lost consecutive games in nearly five years, needed a good performance to overcome another great performance by Markus Howard.
The guard had 37 points and eight assists for Marquette (11-5, 2-2), three nights after scoring a Big East record-tying 52 points in an overtime win at Providence. His reverse layup with 23 seconds left made it 96-90, but he missed a 3 with 13 seconds left while trailing 97-90.
Andrew Rowsey was held to six points on 2-of-12 shooting and Marquette couldn’t duplicate a home victory over then-No. 1 Villanova last January.
”We knew coming into the game we were going to see the best of Villanova, obviously, coming off a loss and having a week to prepare,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. ”And the best of what Villanova has to offer is, in my humble opinion, as good as there is in the United States.”
With Brunson producing six assists in the first half, three on no-look passes for dunks, Villanova was sharp early and led by as many as 13 points before halftime. The lead swelled to 67-50 on Bridges’ three-point play with 12:47 left.
Howard, who hit a Big East record 11 3s against Providence, started just 1 of 4 from the field before catching a rhythm late in the first half.
He was 5 of 13 from 3-point range and also used his speed to score off the dribble, making 13 of 27 shots.
”Markus has become a much more complete basketball player,” Wojciechowski said. ”Obviously the 3-point shots gain the most notoriety, but he’s much more than a 3-point shooter. He’s having a phenomenal sophomore year.”