Jay Wright

Ben Bentil, Egidijus Mockevicius
AP Photo/Alex Gallardo

Villanova, Providence big men dealing with injuries ahead of Saturday’s rematch

Leave a comment

Saturday afternoon No. 3 Villanova visits No. 11 Providence in a rematch of an entertaining game played in Philadelphia January 24, with the Friars winning in overtime. However both teams could enter Saturday’s game at less than full strength, with their starting big men dealing with injuries.

Villanova senior center Daniel Ochefu hasn’t played since that loss to Providence due to a concussion suffered in practice in the days leading up to the Wildcats’ win over Creighton, and the program announced Friday that he is doubtful to return to the court Saturday.

Without Ochefu the Wildcats have started junior Darryl Reynolds in the post, and fellow junior Kris Jenkins put forth two of his best outings of the season in wins over Creighton and St. John’s. If Ochefu can’t play against the Friars, those two will once again be key for Jay Wright’s team.

As for Providence, sophomore forward Ben Bentil was listed as day-to-day following an ankle injury he suffered in a loss at DePaul Wednesday night. Bentil, who has been one of the nation’s most improved players this season, played just 14 minutes against the Blue Demons as a result of the injury. Without him Providence would likely¬†call upon freshman Quadree Smith, who himself had injury issues to navigate earlier this season, for more minutes in the paint.

With Bentil sidelined for most of the game freshman Ryan Fazekas also saw increased minutes, playing 29 in what was his most extensive action since playing 35 minutes in the Friars’ win at Rhode Island in early December.

Hot-shooting No. 3 Villanova takes down Creighton 83-58

Josh Hart, Jordan Pric
AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson
Leave a comment

VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) Kris Jenkins scored 22 points, Jalen Brunson had 16 and No. 3 Villanova rolled past Creighton 83-58 on Wednesday night.

Josh Hart added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats (19-3, 9-1 Big East), who have won 11 of 12. With senior center Daniel Ochefu missing his second straight game with a concussion, Villanova relied on its pinpoint outside shooting. The Wildcats shot 16 for 29 (55 percent) from 3-point range with Brunson and Jenkins each shooting 4 for 6.

On the hunt for their third straight Big East title, Villanova remained a game up on Xavier for first place.

Playing just outside his native Philadelphia, Maurice Watson Jr. led Creighton (14-9, 5-5) with 16 points and five assists. The Bluejays have lost three straight for the first time this season.

The 16 3s were the most Creighton has ever given up and the most Villanova has made this season.

Creighton, the league’s top shooting team, attempted 25 3-pointers but only made eight against the Wildcats, who own the conference’s top-ranked defense.

After Creighton opened a four-point lead midway through the first half on consecutive 3-pointers from Watson and Toby Hegner, Villanova reeled off the next 10 points to take the lead for good. The Wildcats closed the half on a 13-4 run to go up 45-32. The spurt was highlighted by five points apiece from Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges.

The Wildcats went ahead 60-38 with 15 minutes left. They led by as many as 31 points and closed the game on a 63-34 run.

Booth added 10 points for Villanova and Ryan Arcidiacono and Bridges chipped in nine apiece.

Creighton center Geoffrey Groselle didn’t start because of an ankle injury but came off the bench and scored six points.

TIP-INS

Creighton: The Bluejays have lost four straight to Villanova but their last win over the Wildcats was a memorable one as they eclipsed 100 points in a 101-80 triumph on Feb. 16, 2014. . Creighton dropped to 22-131 all-time against nationally ranked opponents, including a 1-5 mark this season. The Bluejays have never beaten a team ranked in the top three.

Villanova: The Wildcats have won 37 straight games at the Pavilion, its campus gym. . Villanova made all 12 of its free throws in the first half. . Villanova’s all-time leading scorer, Kerry Kittles, was sitting courtside for the game.

UP NEXT

Creighton: Hosts DePaul on Saturday

Villanova: Visits No. 11 Providence on Saturday

This version corrects that the 16 3s were the most Villanova made this season.

No. 6 Villanova has big 2nd half, tops St. John’s 68-53

Villanova's Kris Jenkins (2) celebrates as St. John's head coach Chris Mullin, left, reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
2 Comments

NEW YORK (AP) Josh Hart had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Kris Jenkins added 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead No. 6 Villanova to 68-53 victory over St. John’s on Sunday, the Red Storm’s 12th straight loss.

The Wildcats (18-3, 8-1) held onto first place in the Big East by bouncing back from a horrible first half to pull away in the final minutes. The Wildcats shot 50 percent (14 of 28) from the field in the second half and held at least a 10-point lead over the final 13 minutes. The biggest lead was 20 points.

Mikal Bridges added 13 points for Villanova, which finished with a slight rebound advantage. The Wildcats had a nine-game winning streak snapped by No. 10 Providence in their last game.

Durand Johnson had 13 points to lead St. John’s (7-15, 0-9), which struggled with turnovers throughout the game at Madison Square Garden, committing 21, well above its season average of 14.6. Villanova had 20 turnovers.

The first half was a terrible exhibition of shooting and ball-handling.

Villanova, which came in third in the conference at 46.4 percent from the field, shot 7 for 30 (23.3 percent), including 2 for 10 from 3-point range. It was the Wildcats’ worst first half shooting this season. They shot 26.7 percent (8 of 30) in a 78-55 loss to No. 1 Oklahoma in Hawaii.

St. John’s shot 32.3 percent (10 for 31), 5 for 11 on 3-point attempts, and the Red Storm had 10 turnovers, one less than Villanova, which came into the game averaging 10.9 for 40 minutes.

OUT: Villanova center Daniel Ochefu didn’t play. The 6-foot-11 senior suffered a concussion during practice on Friday. Ochefu is averaging 9.7 points and a team-leading 8.3 rebounds. He is shooting 59.6 percent from the field, fifth in the Big East.

FAMOUS FANS: It wasn’t as impressive as the celebrities the New York Knicks draw but in attendance Sunday was tennis great John McEnroe, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Hall of Fame St. John’s coach Lou Carnesecca.

TIP-INS:

Villanova: The Wildcats have a six-game winning streak at Madison Square Garden that includes last season’s Big East Tournament. … This was the 112th meeting between the schools with the first game in 1909. St. John’s leads the series 60-52. … Villanova hit its first 3-pointer of the second half exactly 12 minutes earlier (15:45) than the Wildcats did in the first half.

St. John’s: Before the current streak, the longest losing streak in school history was seven games. … This was the sixth game the Red Storm played without freshman center Yankuba Sima, who broke his hand. In the previous five games St. John’s did not outrebound an opponent. The last game – a loss to Seton Hall – saw the Red Storm outrebounded 56-40. … St. John’s entered the game first in the Big East and seventh nationally with 6.2 blocks per game.

UP NEXT

Villanova hosts Creighton on Tuesday.

St. John’s at No. 7 Xavier on Tuesday.