After putting an end to a conference foe’s longest winning streak of the season, No. 24 Providence will be out to throw another Big East team off course on Saturday when it clashes with visiting Villanova.
The Friars (19-7, 11-4 Big East) are coming off one of their most impressive wins of the season, beating No. 18 Creighton 94-86 in double overtime on Tuesday to snuff the Bluejays’ eight-game winning streak.
Devin Carter went for a game-high 25 points and eight rebounds, while Bryce Hopkins and Noah Locke chipped in 20 points apiece. Providence owned the second extra period, claiming the lead for good on Carter’s three-point play with 3:46 remaining before cruising to the finish.
After Creighton was unable to continue its winning ways, the Wildcats (13-13, 7-8) will attempt to avoid the same fate by picking up their fourth consecutive victory.
But it might not be that easy for Villanova to topple the Friars in Rhode Island. Providence coach Ed Cooley deemed his team’s homecourt advantage one of the best in the country.
“When you play at home, you got to win your home games,” Cooley said. “It’s too hard to go on the road. As you can tell, we’re playing in front of sold-out crowds every time we go into somebody’s away arena as they come here and play (at the Amica Mutual Pavilion), which is becoming if not the hardest, one of the most hardest buildings in America to play in.”
A raucous road environment could spell disaster for the Wildcats, who have lost four of their last five away games. Villanova averaged just 65.3 points per game in those setbacks, which came to DePaul, Butler, Marquette and Creighton.
The Wildcats were able to get revenge against the Bulldogs in their most recent game, though, downing Butler 62-50 on Tuesday behind 15 points from Justin Moore and 13 from Caleb Daniels.
Villanova only shot 35.2 percent from the field as a team, but Wildcats coach Kyle Neptune was pleased with the defensive performance and hopes his team continues to lock in on that end of the floor for the remainder of the season.
“We got some good shots. … You’re not going to make every shot,” Neptune said. “I think the mark of a good team is when you can get it done and win a game when you’re not making shots.
“If you want to compete toward the end of the season, that’s the type of team we got to be.”
Cam Whitmore has led the defensive charge for the Wildcats, nabbing a team-high 30 steals in 19 games (13 starts). He has also been one of the team’s best shooters, converting 46.6 percent from the floor.
Hopkins (16.8 points per game), Carter (13.5) and Ed Croswell (12.8) serve as the Friars’ top three scorers, with Croswell also shooting a team-best 61.4 percent from the field.
Villanova will be seeking a split of the season series with Providence after dropping a 70-65 decision to the Friars on Jan. 29. However, the Wildcats have taken eight of the last 11 meetings between the teams in the all-time series.
–Field Level Media