No. 5 Villanova looking to rebound vs. surging Howard

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Villanova won't have much time to recover following a close loss at No. 2 UCLA.

But the No. 5-ranked Wildcats (1-1) can take solace knowing they're likely to handle their next opponent in Howard.

Villanova fell 86-77 in overtime to the Bruins and will now host the Bison on Tuesday.

"You've got to learn you don't get these chances a lot," Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. "We did a lot of good things and when you do that, you've got to do it consistently."

Jermaine Samuels led the Wildcats with 20 points and Collin Gillespie added 18. For a program with national championship aspirations, there's nothing wrong with an overtime loss on the road to No. 2 UCLA.

The goal is to learn from it and come home to regroup.

"I don't think we got worn down," Samuels said. "We just didn't execute, didn't get the job done.'

Villanova held a 10-point lead in the second half but went through some offensive struggles against UCLA's tenacious defense.

"We don't worry as much about those droughts offensively -- that's when we count on our defense," Wright said. "We did have that drought offensively. That doesn't bother us."

The Wildcats won national championships in 2016 and 2018 and reached the Sweet Sixteen last season. And they added a talented group of freshmen to complement the veterans like Samuels and Gillespie.

While this game looks like an easy win, nothing is guaranteed.

"Every game is a great test for us," Wright said.

Howard will look to open the season with its fourth consecutive victory.

The Bison went on the road to defeat Bradley 76-64 last Saturday to secure their first 3-0 start since 2018-19.

Kyle Foster led Howard with 16 points while Elijah Hawkins and Steve Settle III added 14 apiece.

Howard finished 1-4 last season before the season was cancelled to COVID-19.

What a difference a year makes.

"We had to do a lot of rebuilding and starting from scratch," Howard head coach Kenny Blakeney said. "But I really enjoy our team this season. We have some grad transfers and guys that have been in the system for a while now. And mix that with the incoming freshmen. I don't know what to expect from our team, but I know we going to play together."

Howard is in search of its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1992 and its first winning record since 2001-02. The Bison finished 17-17 in 2018-19.

The matchup at Villanova will be a good test for Howard.

"I think the big thing we've tried to put in place is our personnel to a point where we have the young men in our program that can execute and be successful in our system and in our university," Blakeney said. "That's been sort of the things that we've focused on: 'How do we get the right people on the right bus?' So that's been our big push over the last couple years."

--Field Level Media