No. 12 Villanova faces Xavier aiming for 4th straight win

NCAA Basketball

Villanova will be searching for its fourth consecutive victory when it travels to Xavier Saturday afternoon.

The No. 12-ranked Wildcats (20-6, 9-4 Big East) tied a season-high with 18 made 3-pointers in a 91-71 thrashing at DePaul Wednesday.

Saddiq Bey led the way with 20 points and a career-best seven assists while Justin Moore and Collin Gillespie added 17 points apiece for Villanova, which reached the 20-win mark for the eighth straight season.

The Wildcats were also efficient from beyond the arc, going 18 of 26. At 69.2 percent, it marked their best from 3-point range since the 2010-11 season.

“We just shot the ball great,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “We’ve been on the other side of that when teams have done it to us. When someone is shooting the ball like that it’s kind of hard for the opponent to do anything. We had a second half like that against Temple and I just hope we can keep it going.

“We just did a really good job of sharing the ball and knocking down 3s.”

Villanova also received an unexpected boost from Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, who played extra minutes with Jeremiah Robinson-Earl in foul trouble.

Cosby-Roundtree scored a season-high 11 points to go along with seven rebounds.

“I think it was just me coming in to do whatever the team needed,” Cosby-Roundtree said. “I was focused on defense and rebounding. I wasn’t really worried about scoring. I wanted to play hard for every possession I could.”

The Wildcats will attempt to sweep the two game series from Xavier. They won 68-62 Dec. 30 on the Main Line.

Xavier will be hoping to get back to .500 in conference play as it enters this matchup with a 17-9 mark overall and 6-7 in the Big East.

Xavier is 11-3 at home and riding positive momentum from a 77-74 road win against St. John’s on Monday.

Paul Scruggs led the Musketeers with 16 points while Tyrique Jones earned his 18th double-double of the season with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Naji Marshall also had 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Quentin Goodin went scoreless in 10 minutes at St. John’s and still remains just one point shy of 1,000 for his career.

The Musketeers overcame 22 turnovers to pull out the win.

Would they have been able to withstand 22 turnovers and win a game like this a month ago?

“Probably not,” Xavier head coach Travis Steele said. “I thought we handled adversity a lot better tonight than what we did a month or two months ago when the Wake Forest game was. We did not play our best tonight. Give St. John’s all the credit in the world. They did it to us. But to be able to win and not play at your best that’s a good sign for us moving forward, but we gotta learn from this at the same time.

“We gotta keep growing. There’s a lot of season left.”

Beginning with this ultra-important home game against surging Villanova.

“Any time you win on the road with 22 turnovers, man, I’m shocked. We should feel very, very, very fortunate that we came away with a win,” Steele said. “I was proud of how our guys stuck together. We were down by seven there, the arena got real loud, they went on a big run but our guys stuck together and finished the game the right way.”

–Field Level Media

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