GAME NOTES: Two teams from the old guard of the Big East Conference will clash on Monday night, as the Villanova Wildcats invade our nation's capital to contend with the Georgetown Hoyas.
Villanova barely escaped Milwaukee on Saturday with a 94-85 overtime victory over Marquette. The win allowed the Wildcats to bounce back from a 96-68 rout at home versus Creighton and improve to 17-2 overall and 6-1 in league action. They will visit local rival Temple this Saturday in non-league play.
Georgetown has ben reeling of late, with losses in four straight games after a 76-63 setback on the road against Creighton on Saturday. The Hoyas' losing streak has dropped them to 11-8 overall and 3-5 in conference. They will also step out of league play for their next bout, as they battle Michigan State in New York City this Saturday.
The Wildcats and Hoyas are both holdovers from the original Big East, and they have carried their rivalry into the new-look conference. Georgetown has a 42-29 lead in the all-time series, although Villanova earned a 67-57 win in last year's lone encounter.
There was some controversy at the end of regulation in Villanova's duel with Marquette. With the teams tied at 77-77, Tony Chennault drove into the lane and got a layup to fall, but he was called for a charge, keeping the game tied and forcing the extra session. Villanova dominated in the overtime, hitting 4- of-5 shots from the floor and 9-of-9 at the free-throw line to take the decision.
It is difficult to say who put forth the most impressive effort in the win over Marquette. James Bell (15.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg), who is second on the team in scoring and rebounding, finished with 30 points, Ryan Arcidiacono (10.2 ppg, 3.5 apg), tallied 20 points and 11 assists without turning the ball over, and Darrun Hilliard nailed four 3-pointers and ended up with 20 points. If the backcourt trio can produce at such a high level moving forward, the Wildcats will be even more dangerous. Leading scorer JayVaughn Pinkston (15.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg) tacked on 12 points and eight rebounds in support.
Markel Starks scored 21 points, but needed 20 shots to do so in Georgetown's recent loss to Creighton. The Hoyas did not shoot well as a team, netting 39.3 percent from the field and 6-of-20 from beyond the arc. They were also outscored at the free-throw line, 21-9.
Georgetown has not been the most dynamic offensive team in the Big East this season, ranking ninth in scoring (71.8 ppg), despite shooting 46.5 percent from the floor. The Hoyas have been strong defensively, limiting foes to 67.4 ppg and 39.6 percent shooting. D'Vauntes Smither-Rivera (17.5 ppg, 3.1 apg), who had 18 points against Creighton, and Starks (16.2 ppg, 3.9 apg) are the only double-digit scorers on the roster. In fact, with Jabril Trawick out with a broken jaw and Joshua Smith gone due to academics, Mikael Hopkins (6.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg) is the third-best scoring option.
Villanova has not had much trouble on the road this season (5-1). If they get another strong effort from their backcourt and Pinkston can get good looks inside, the Wildcats should be able to push their way past the depleted Hoyas.
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