Big East brawl pits Hoyas against Wildcats

Philadelphia, PA ( - Hoping to exact revenge for one of their two losses on the season, the seventh-ranked Villanova Wildcats play host to long-time Big East Conference rivals, the 24th-ranked Georgetown Hoyas at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday afternoon.

Georgetown handed Villanova only its second loss of the 2014-15 campaign at home back on Jan. 19, thrashing the Wildcats in a 78-58 final. It was a signature win for the Hoyas, while also serving as the poorest outing of the season by the Wildcats.

Since then, Georgetown has alternated wins and losses to arrive at 15-7 overall, which includes a 7-4 mark in conference. The Hoyas recently dropped a 74-71 decision at home to Providence on Wednesday night, just five days after posting a 27-point win at Creighton.

Villanova has won three in a row since falling in the nation's capital last month, with its most recent triumph coming in a 70-52 shellacking of visiting Marquette on Wednesday. As a result, the Wildcats are sporting an impressive 20-2 overall record, which includes a 7-2 league ledger. They are in first place in the Big East, but narrowly as both Providence and Butler are close behind at 7-3.

Georgetown's win over Villanova earlier this season increased its lead in the all-time series to 43-31.

Despite 21 points from D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and 10 each from Joshua Smith, Tre Campbell and Isaac Copeland, Georgetown dropped a close one to Providence earlier in the week. The Hoyas put forth a rather lackluster shooting effort, hitting 42.6 percent of their field goal attempts, although they knocked through 8-of-20 3-point tries. Conversely, the Friars made good on 53.5 percent of their total shots, while logging a 23-17 edge in points at the foul line. GU was guilty of 15 turnovers, off which PC scored 20 points.

Smith-Rivera and Smith have pretty much carried the Hoyas from an offensive standpoint this season, with the former netting 15.8 ppg to rank fifth in the conference, and the latter turning in 11.9 ppg to go with his club-best 6.6 rpg. As a team, Georgetown puts up 71.8 ppg while laying claim to a +3.4 rebounding margin. However, where the team really earns its keep is at the defensive end, as foes are scoring just 64.8 ppg by hitting their shots at a mere 39.7 percent clip, which ranks the Hoyas first in the Big East in field goal percentage defense.

Villanova played outstanding defense in its recent win over Marquette, as it held the Golden Eagles to 35 percent field goal efficiency, which included a paltry 23.3 percent effort in the first half. The Wildcats struggled in the opening period as well, shooting just 32.4 percent, but they drained 11-of-26 3-point tries in the game and notched a 13-4 edge in points at the charity stripe. A 44-38 rebounding advantage helped matters, as did the fact that they scored 21 points off 17 Marquette turnovers. For the second straight game, Ryan Arcidiacono scored 18 points, and he was joined in double figures by four others.

It should come as no surprise that Villanova is getting the job done at both ends of the court, as the team ranks second in the league in scoring offense (75.0 ppg), while leading the way in scoring defense (60.2 ppg). The Wildcats boast only two double-digit scorers (Darrun Hilliard at 13.2 ppg; Arcidiacono at 10.0 ppg), but two others are within a tenth of a point of joining them, while still two others are roughly half a point away. With balance being the key to their success on offense, forcing turnovers (15.1 per game) and limiting the enemy's effectiveness from beyond the arc (.302) have been VU's strengths on defense.