No. 19 Villanova looking for payback against Creighton

·3 min read

Villanova will look for its third consecutive victory when it plays host to Creighton on Wednesday.

The No. 19 Wildcats (9-4, 2-1 Big East), who lost on the road to the Bluejays 79-59 on Dec. 17, have won all five career meetings in this series at their on-campus arena, where Wednesday's game will be played.

In Villanova's most recent game Saturday, it defeated then-No. 15 Seton Hall 73-67. The victory moved Villanova up three spots in the rankings, while Seton Hall fell to No. 24.

Collin Gillespie led the way with 21 points while Brandon Slater added 17 points and seven rebounds. The Wildcats were victorious even without Caleb Daniels, who was out in COVID-19 protocol.

"It's a good win for us to come in here, having a tough shooting night because of their physicality and just finding a way," Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. "I thought Brandon Slater was great. Jermaine Samuels was outstanding inside on the glass. I thought that was a big key to the game."

Samuels, who opted to return for a final season at Villanova, had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

After losing by 20 or more points to Baylor and Creighton, the first time that had happened in consecutive games in 21 years for Wright at Villanova, the Wildcats rebounded with consecutive victories.

For Villanova's run of success to continue, Justin Moore will certainly need to keep leading the way. Moore, who had 13 points against Seton Hall, knocked down a huge jumper with 1:36 left to help key the win over the Pirates.

"He does so many things that impact the game," Wright said of Moore. "He hit the huge jumper late in the second half when we were down one. He is just that kind of player."

Creighton (10-3, 2-0) also will be searching for its third straight win.

On Saturday, the Bluejays won 75-69 in double overtime over host Marquette at Milwaukee.

Alex O'Connell dropped in a clutch 3-pointer at the buzzer to force the second overtime.

"They almost knew that a shot was coming for me," O'Connell said. "But I got a clean catch and I was able to get a clean look at the (3-pointer). And it went in."

Ryan Kalkbrenner posted career-high totals of 20 points and 12 rebounds for his first-ever double-double. Ryan Hawkins added 18 points and 12 rebounds and O'Connell had 17 points.

"Really proud of our guys to keep playing until the final horn goes off," Creighton head coach Greg McDermott said.

Kalkbrenner, however, appears to have ignited the Blue Jays this season. The 7-footer has improved in every facet of the game, especially on the defensive end where he blocked four shots against Marquette.

Kalkbrenner is blocking nearly three shots per game this season.

"When you're playing fun and relaxed, everything comes more natural," Kalkbrenner said. "You're not thinking about it as much. You just do things because you're playing the game."

Added McDermott: "You hope that a guy makes a jump from his freshman to sophomore year. He certainly has."

--Field Level Media