Villanova gets another shot at Creighton

Posted: February 17, 2014

OMAHA, Neb. - Villanova would have been justified in burning the tape of its very own horror movie showing last month's loss to Creighton, which featured a bombardment of three-point baskets - 21 to be exact - by the Bluejays in a 28-point blowout.

The Wildcats, however, have in fact watched the tape several times to determine how to better defend Creighton's deep shooters. Any change in strategy will be on display Sunday in the rematch of the two ranked teams before a sellout crowd at the CenturyLink Center.

"I watched the film [Thursday] night and it's painful to see," guard Darrun Hilliard said Friday. "They made shots. We didn't execute on defense and we were poor on offense. But it was just one game. We got better from there, a lot better team than we were after we played those guys. It's going to be a good game."

Asked if he has watched the game often, Villanova coach Jay Wright responded, "Definitely."

"They exposed a lot of areas where we were not good enough in that game," he said. "There had been a lot of games where our offense had covered for our defense. But in that game, we were just as bad offensively, which got them out in transition, which exposed our transition defense.

"So it was a great learning experience for us, that we had to get a lot better defensively and we had to get better offensively. We've developed our inside game and we've worked a lot on transition defense. I still am concerned it's not good enough yet, but this is going to be a test."

The sixth-ranked Wildcats (22-2, 10-1 Big East) and the No. 18 Bluejays (20-4, 10-2) are 1-2 in the Big East. They are the two most prolific three-point teams, with Creighton averaging 10.4 and Villanova coming in at 9.2.

Forward Ethan Wragge, a fifth-year senior, destroyed the Wildcats at the Wells Fargo Center by making 9 of 14 three-pointers en route to 27 points. For the game, the Bluejays were 21 of 35, for 60 percent.

Creighton also has Doug McDermott, a national player of the year candidate who leads the Big East in scoring at 25.3 points per game. McDermott had a rather quiet 23 points last month against the Wildcats, but Wright knows that he can explode at any time and that he will get the ball to a three-point shooter if double-teamed.

The game has been sold out since November, meaning 17,390 will be screaming for their team. Creighton coach Greg McDermott predicted that "the energy and enthusiasm in the building will be off the charts."

Hilliard said he and his teammates will be ready for it.

"I hear they've got a great fan base," he said. "I'm sure their student section supports them and they're going to be up for the game just like how we are. I never thought I'd be in Omaha, Nebraska. It'll be a great feeling and it'll be even better if we come out with the win."


jjuliano@phillynews.com

@joejulesinq

|
|
|
|
|