No. 7 Villanova is in the middle of a week-long break in between its non-conference and Big East schedules. By the time the Wildcats start league play on New Year’s Eve against Butler, they hope to have leading scorer Darrun Hilliard back in the lineup.
The starting senior guard has been out since last Saturday when he suffered a concussion late in regulation in Villanova’s 82-77 overtime win over former conference rival Syracuse. Hilliard missed Tuesday night’s game against N.J.I.T., a contest that looked to mirror the Highlanders’ signature win over then-No. 17 Michigan earlier this month, although, a three-point halftime deficit turned into a 25-point victory for the undefeated Wildcats.
Following the win, Villanova head coach Jay Wright updated the status of Hilliard.
“He is much better,” Wright said after Villanova’s 92-67 win over N.J.I.T., according to Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “He didn’t have a severe concussion. It’s just one of those things where we erred on the side of safety, which you have to in these cases.
“He has to go through that protocol on consecutive days and they will do it which tells you about our trainer doing that. I think he will be fine.”
Hilliard is the team’s leading scorer at 12.6 points per game, shooting 45 percent from three over the last six games. With Hilliard sidelined, sophomore Josh Hart got the start in Villanova’s three-guard set and freshman Phil Booth tied a season-high in minutes played (24).
Villanova opens Big East play at home against Butler at 2:30 p.m.