Creighton-Villanova Preview

The Associated Press

Villanova has a cute nickname for Doug McDermott that indicates how tough a task it is to slow down Creighton's star player.

The fourth-ranked Wildcats seek a sixth straight victory when they host McDermott and the Bluejays in a Monday night showdown for the Big East lead.

McDermott is averaging 24.9 points to rank second in the nation, and he's a marked man in his first Big East season.

"Last Sunday, when (the Bluejays) played Xavier, I was out recruiting and I asked the guys, 'Did you see the game?'" Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "They said yes. I asked 'How do you think Creighton beat Xavier?' and they just said 'Dougie McBuckets.'

"They all really respect him and it made me feel good that our players respect him because I think he is a consummate all-around basketball player and I like that our guys like him because it tells me about their intelligence and their basketball IQ."

Creighton (15-3, 5-1) fell behind Villanova (16-1, 5-0) with Saturday's 81-68 defeat at Providence. McDermott scored 21 and failed to make a 3-pointer for the third time this season as the Bluejays' 10-game win streak ended.

The defeat caused Creighton to fall out of the rankings this week.

''I've been sick for a little bit, but that's not an excuse,'' McDermott said. ''I've played through sickness before. It wasn't our best as a group.''

Creighton is among the national leaders at 42.4 percent on 3-pointers, but finished at a season-low 21.1 against the Friars. Ethan Wragge made two of eight attempts after entering at 50.0 percent.

Providence's 50.9 percent shooting was also a season-worst allowed by Creighton.

"We weren't ourselves but Providence had a lot to do with that," coach Greg McDermott said. "We had a hard time stopping them and when we made a mistake, they certainly made us pay for it."

The Bluejays will face a Villanova team that leads the Big East in limiting opponents to 38.8 percent shooting. The Wildcats cruised to an 88-62 home win over DePaul on Saturday.

James Bell scored 17 and Daniel Ochefu reached double digits for the second straight game with 14, making all six shots.

''My coaches and my teammates do a great job being confident in myself,'' Ochefu said. ''I just respond to them having confidence in me.''

The Wildcats got a quiet effort from leading scorer JayVaughn Pinkston, who had eight points after averaging 18.3 in his first four Big East games.

This is Villanova's first game of the season at the Wells Fargo Center, where it went 3-0 last season.

The venue isn't unfamiliar to Creighton, which played there in last year's NCAA tournament. McDermott averaged 24.0 points and 10.0 rebounds as the Bluejays beat Cincinnati and fell to Duke.

Creighton is making its second trip to Philadelphia this season after an 83-79 victory over Saint Joseph's on Nov. 16.

Villanova has won all three meetings in the series, the last coming in 1952.

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