February 13, 2021 –
A heavyweight fight in the Big East. Pace would be the determining factor, and it was as the #19 Creighton Blue Jays defeated the #5 Villanova Wildcats 86 – 70 in Omaha. The Jays played fast, the Cats did not slow them down resulting in the most points given up by Nova this season.
“It was a great effort on their part and not one of our best efforts,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “We had a tough time guarding them. Their speed and movement on offense really was difficult for us to guard. We knew we had to get better defensively coming into the game and it was pretty obvious today.”
The fast pace in favor of the Blue Jays gave them good shots on their offensive sets. Creighton made 32 of 54 field goal attempts (59.3%), the highest percentage given up by Villanova this season. The Jays also connected on 12 of 26 three-pointers, the most made three’s by an opponent. Villanova made 24 of 64 (37.5%). Those numbers went against the Cats, and when that high it spells trouble.
“They got into their offensive sets really quick and they play fast,” Wright said. “We struggle with that. That tempo bothered us.”
The Wildcats tried to get back into the game, but could not mount a serious charge. Early in the game Nova got some offensive rebounds, 9 in the first six minutes. They got only 4 more for the rest of the game. No easy baskets off the offensive glass were to be had, and ‘one and done’ allowed the Jays to keep their foot on the gas pedal.
“Early we did, we had multiple offensive rebounds and didn’t get anything out of it,” said Wright. “I give us credit for having the tenacity for getting offensive rebounds. But they recovered quickly. We’re usually a good at getting offensive rebounds and getting easy baskets out of them. We didn’t today. In the second half we didn’t get any offensive rebounds.”
Big East Player of the Year candidate Marcus Zegarowski proved to be tough to handle scoring a season-high 25 points making 10 of 18 from the floor and added 5 assists.
“He got open shots, he got easy baskets, he got to the front of the rim, he got his teammates involved, so he did a little bit of everything,” said Villanova guard Collin Gillespie.
Guard Mitch Ballock went on to add 20 points behind a stellar 7 of 9 shooting performance, draining 6 of 8 from three-point land. Christian Bishop and Damian Jefferson would record double-doubles for the Blue Jays.
Justin Moore scored a season-high 21 points hitting 4 three-point shots along the way, the most made three’s for him this season. Jermaine Samuels contributed 16 points and 6 rebounds. Forward Brandon Slater added 11 points.
Villanova still holds first place in the Big East standings with an 8 – 2 conference mark. Creighton is second with a 12 – 4 league record. The heavyweights are scheduled to clash again on March 3 at the Finneran Pavilion.
Written By: Glenn Papazian