DePaul-Villanova Preview

Villanova is on the verge of its longest home winning streak in nearly two decades.

Facing DePaul might have seemed like an ideal way to get it, but the conference's perennial basement dweller might not be a pushover this time.

Going for a 13th consecutive home victory, the No. 6 Wildcats might be careful not to look past the Blue Demons on Saturday before facing the Big East's only other ranked team.

Villanova (15-1, 4-0) is looking to open conference play with five straight wins for the first time since going 9-0 to start 2009-10. That's also the last time the Wildcats had a 12-game win streak at home. They haven't had a longer one since winning 21 straight bridging the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons.

This season's squad is 8-0 at home - all but one win was by at least 16 points - with games at The Pavilion on campus as well as the larger Wells Fargo Center. After DePaul visits The Pavilion, Villanova plays 20th-ranked Creighton at Wells Fargo on Monday in a matchup of the only Big East teams which enter this weekend with perfect league records.

"We're a tough-minded team and that comes from coach (Jay Wright) getting on us in practice and bringing us together," leading scorer JayVaughn Pinkston said.

The Wildcats have won their last three home games against DePaul (10-8, 2-3) by an average of 16.6 points as part of a six-game winning streak in the series. They shot 59.6 percent from the field in the only meeting last season Feb. 5, hitting 22 of 32 in the second half to pull away for a 94-71 road victory after the game was tied at halftime.

This one, however, could turn out much different.

After finishing last in the Big East for five straight seasons, the Blue Demons have an opportunity to win three straight in league play for the first time since Feb. 8-17, 2007.

Their confidence is growing after winning 77-75 over St. John's to end an eight-game losing streak in that series. That came five days after beating Butler 99-94 on the road in double overtime.

Villanova also needed overtime to win at Butler on Dec. 31.

"Winning always gives you confidence," DePaul guard Brandon Young said. "We talk about the importance of playing together. If we can keep this going, the sky's the limit."

Young has been superb over the last three games, averaging 20.3 points since going scoreless in a loss at Marquette on Jan. 4. The senior was held to 11 on 4-of-12 shooting against Villanova last year.

DePaul freshman Billy Garrett Jr. looks to continue his own impressive play, having scored a season-high 22 against Butler before getting 21 on Tuesday.

Pinkston is averaging 18.3 points and 6.8 boards over the last four games. The senior turned in his third career double-double and first of the season last Saturday with 15 points and 10 rebounds in a 74-67 road win over St. John's.

Josh Hart has been a pleasant surprise off the bench, and he's been named Big East rookie of the week in three of the last four weeks. He's scored in double figures in seven straight games, averaging 12.4 points while hitting 65.9 percent from the floor. The freshman guard has made 11 of his last 20 3-point attempts.

"When we're making 3s, he can hit those," Wright said, "but what he really does well is attack the rim."