NOVA-BUTLER: A BIG EAST TEST IN A LEGENDARY MADNESS VENUE!

By Martin Gabler

Villanova is heading to Indy for its game with Butler on Sunday.

The Cats will be looking for their their straight win, and the game will be played in Hinkle Fieldhouse, where they will re-visit next month when March Madness take place entirely in Indy.

The No. 8-ranked Wildcats (15-3, 10-2 Big East) breezed past St. John’s 81-58 last week with Caleb Daniels leading the way with 17 points. Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels added 14 apiece and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had 12.

And the defense.

“We just had to get back to playing Villanova basketball,” Gillespie said. “Just focusing on defending and rebounding. This was our most important game because it was our next game. It wasn’t because this was St. John’s or payback or anything like that. We respect them. They’re very physical and very tough. This was a great test for us.”

Gillespie has carried the Wildcats through this difficult COVID-19 season filled with challenges.

“Collin is our heart and soul, our engine,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “To see him come out like that, so tough and aggressive, is what college athletics is all about. He had a tough game against them last time.

“They did a great job on him,” Wright added. “And he comes back with great confidence tonight, not trying to do it all on his own, getting other people shots, making the right plays. It’s the sign of a great leader.”

The Wildcats have also received a big lift from their bench lately, especially Brandon Slater and Cole Swider. Their production has made them even more balanced.

“Those are the guys that we’re playing against every day in practice,” Gillespie said. “They’re really getting into us and making it tough for us in practice. So we have a ton of confidence in those guys when they come into games because we know that they’re making plays in practice.”

Butler will be searching for its second straight win.

In their last game, the Bulldogs came away with an impressive 61-52 victory over Seton Hall. They improved to 8-13 overall and 7-11 in the conference.

 

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