No. 1 Villanova thumps Creighton 98-78 for 8th straight win

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 16: Jalen Brunson #1 of the Villanova Wildcats drives against Elijah Long #55 of the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers in the first half during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KeyBank Center on March 16, 2017 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Mikal Bridges scored 21 points and Jalen Brunson had 19 to lead No. 1 Villanova to its eighth straight win, 98-78 over Creighton on Thursday night.

The Wildcats (21-1, 8-1 Big East) tied a program record with 19 3-pointers and provided a nice diversion for a city consumed with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Super Bowl.

Yes, the best team in college basketball plays across the street from the NFC champs. It just takes a lot to notice around town this week.

Creighton (17-6, 7-4) became the latest team to learn the hard way just talented the Wildcats are and how they can win in almost any possible.

Omari Spellman hit four 3s and scored 14 points, Brunson made 4 of 5 3s and Bridges, Eric Paschall and Donte DiVincenzo each made three.

Marcus Foster led the Bluejays with 20 points.

The Wildcats are just waiting for March at this point of the season, and are cruising toward their fifth straight regular-season Big East title and yet another No. 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Collin Gillespie’s emergence can only strengthen the Wildcats down the stretch.

Gillespie, who had eight points and five assists, missed seven games over five weeks this season with a broken left and played his fifth game since his return. Gillespie, a 6-foot-2 freshman guard, has gone from role player to key cog with Phil Booth out indefinitely with a broken bone in his right hand. Gillespie played perhaps his best all-around game of the season and helped the Wildcats build an 18-point lead in the first half.

Gillespie had two assists early during a 7-0 run. He buried a 3-pointer then took a charge from Marcus Foster on the other end that got the Wildcats rolling. He had an assist on Brunson’s four-point play during a 22-4 run that gave the Wildcats their biggest lead of the half.

Only injuries could slow the Wildcats. Gillespie and Booth have been hurt and forward Jermaine Samuels remains sidelined with a broken left hand. Bridges came up limping on his left ankle early in the second half and took a quick seat on the bench. The Wildcats used only seven players in the first half and depth issues, coupled with any more injuries, could crush their bid for a second national title in three seasons.


Creighton: The Bluejays have defeated three Top 25 teams this season but have never in program history beat the No. 1 team in the poll (0-3). … The Bluejays have lost eight straight against the Wildcats. … Even with the three wins, Creighton is 12-25 under coach Greg McDermott against nationally-ranked teams.

Villanova: The Wildcats love to blow out teams. They built a 41-point lead against Saint Joseph’s, 19 points over nationally-ranked Gonzaga, 23 over Temple and 30 over DePaul, among other whopping leads.


Creighton plays Wednesday at DePaul.

Villanova shares the Super Bowl sports schedule on Sunday in Philly against Seton Hall.