Rosemont, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - The seventh-ranked Villanova Wildcats seek a regular-season sweep of the DePaul Blue Demons on Saturday afternoon, as the two Big East Conference clubs square off Allstate Arena.
Villanova enters the contest sporting an impressive 18-2 record, which includes a 5-2 league ledger. The Wildcats bounced back from an embarrassing loss at Georgetown (78-58) on Jan. 19 by routing Creighton at home last Sunday, 71-50. VU is 3-2 in true road games this season, losing two of its last four on enemy hardwood.
DePaul is hoping to stop a two-game losing streak with a win today, and its most recent setback came in an 83-72 verdict at Providence on Thursday. As a result, the Blue Demons fell to 11-11 on the season, and 5-4 in conference. They are 8-3 at home, and this is their first game at Allstate Arena since besting St. John's in overtime on Jan. 18, 71-67.
Villanova owns a 19-8 series advantage against DePaul, and that includes an 81-64 win when the two teams met on the Wildcats' home floor back on Jan. 10.
Villanova used a 13-of-29 effort from 3-point range to thwart the upset bid of the Blue Demons in that contest. Darrun Hilliard paced the Wildcats with 21 points.
Hilliard drained six 3-pointers, the Wildcats hitting 12 treys in the game, on his way to 24 points, as Villanova whipped visiting Creighton last weekend. Ryan Arcidiacono hit a pair of triples to tally 10 points, as VU shot better from beyond the arc (.462) than it did the floor overall (.446). The Bluejays were limited to 37.3 percent field goal efficiency, which included a dismal 4- of-21 showing from distance. The 'Cats were beaten badly on the boards, 40-27, but committed only five turnovers while goading their overmatched opponent into 19, resulting in a 21-2 edge in points off miscues for the home team.
With such an outstanding record, it's no wonder Villanova owns significant margins in scoring (+14.8) and turnovers (+4.5) this season. The team has some very good players, but relies more on a balanced attack to get the job done as six guys average between 9.2 and 13.4 ppg, with Hilliard sitting atop that list. The Wildcats play some pretty stingy defense as well, with foes netting only 60.9 ppg in hitting 41.1 percent of their field goal tries, which includes a paltry 29.6 percent performance out on the perimeter.
Providence used a productive first half to open up a double-digit lead against DePaul on Thursday night, and then had to scuffle a bit in the second stanza to earn the 11-point victory. Tommy Hamilton led the Blue Demons with 22 points off the bench, while Billy Garrett added 16, Jamee Crockett 14 and Myke Henry 10 in the losing effort. DePaul drained seven 3-pointers compared to only three for the Friars, but the home team logged a 26-13 edge in points at the foul line, while also securing a massive 38-19 rebounding advantage.
Henry (13.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg), Garrett (13.1 ppg, 3.7 apg), Hamilton (11.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Crockett (10.8 ppg) are all averaging double digits for a DePaul squad that generates 72.4 ppg, but allows 73.9 ppg. The Blue Demons are hitting 36.6 percent of their long-range launches, while yielding only 30.0 percent success to the opposition. A -3.9 rebounding differential has hurt the team on more than one occasion, as has the fact that it turns the ball over an average of 14.5 times per contest.