PHILADELPHIA — Kris Jenkins scored a season-high 23 points, Josh Hart had 19 and No. 1 Villanova returned to form with a 93-81 win over Marquette on Saturday night.
The Wildcats (15-1, 3-1 Big East) bounced back from their first loss of the season at Butler and still have not lost two straight games since 2013.
The Wildcats fell to 14-1 with their 66-58 loss at Butler, ending their 20-game winning streak going back to last season’s NCAA title.
Villanova played for the first time at the Wells Fargo Center with a national championship banner hanging in the rafters. Jenkins, the title game standout, Hart and Jalen Brunson all made the Wildcats look quite capable of winning back-to-back titles.
Markus Howard led the Golden Eagles (10-5, 1-2) with 21 points.
The Golden Eagles made five of their first nine 3-pointers to hang around for a half before the Wildcats blew the game open. Brunson hit a 3 off an assist from Jenkins; Jenkins followed with a 3 off an assist from Brunson for a 17-point lead.
Jenkins made six of Villanova’s 14 3-pointers. Brunson, who had 16 points, was 3 of 3 on 3s.
Villanova will likely lose the top spot in the AP Top 25 poll to Baylor. But the Wildcats made 25 of their first 25 shots and proved that even with a loss, the road to a Big East crown still goes through the best basketball team in Philly.
Marquette: Coach Steve Wojciechowski was whistled for a technical late in the first half. He had good reason to be fired up: Marquette was just 2 for 2 from the free-throw line in the half. If the Wildcats are the Big East measuring stick, Marquette again failed a big test and lost to them for the ninth straight game. Marquette hasn’t defeated Villanova since Jan. 28, 2012. Marquette’s career record against top-ranked teams fell to 1-10.
Villanova: The Wildcats have not dropped consecutive games since they lost a Big East tourney game and their first NCAA Tournament game in 2013. The loss to Butler was just a minor bump for a program looking for a fourth straight Big East championship. But a game with No. 16 Xavier on Tuesday looms for the Wildcats and the Musketeers could give them fits.
Marquette returns home to play Seton Hall on Wednesday. The Musketeers split their series with Villanova last season, with each team winning at home.