Villanova is peaking at the right time.
Thanks to career-highs of six 3-pointers and 31 points from Eric Dixon, the Wildcats (15-14, 9-9 Big East) moved above .500 and defeated then-No. 19 Creighton 79-67 on Saturday in Philadelphia.
It was the second straight victory over a ranked team following a 64-63 win over then-No. 16 Xavier on Feb. 21.
With only two regular-season games remaining before the Big East tournament, the Wildcats will now look for their third straight win overall when they visit Seton Hall on Tuesday in Newark, N.J.
Villanova held Creighton to 5-of-26 shooting from 3-point territory.
“I thought our guys just played hard,” Wildcats coach Kyle Neptune said. “It’s no secret. (Creighton is) a really good team. They have a lot of different weapons that can hurt you. I thought our guys just came out and played extremely hard from the very beginning.”
The balanced Wildcats also received 17 points from Cam Whitmore, 11 from Mark Armstrong and eight points and eight assists from Justin Moore.
Villanova has found different ways to win games recently. This time, it was Dixon’s offensive outburst.
“It was probably in high school,” said Dixon, when asked to recall the last time he scored 30. “I haven’t thought about it too much. My teammates kept finding me.”
Seton Hall will attempt to rebound after consecutive losses to then-No. 20 UConn on Feb. 18 and Xavier on Friday. The Pirates have lost four of five.
The Pirates (16-13, 9-9) fell behind by 19 points at halftime and never recovered in an 82-60 loss against the Musketeers.
Dre Davis did return from an injury suffered Jan. 28 at Butler to produce 13 points and five rebounds. Jaquan Sanders also came off the bench to score 11 points.
Tempers flared with a few seconds left as players from both teams appeared upset in front of the scorer’s table. Xavier’s Souley Boum and Sanders were right in the mix.
“That should never happen,” Seton Hall coach Shaheen Holloway said. “As the head coach, I take full responsibility for that. My guys gotta do better. I gotta do better. It will never happen again.”
The Pirates played without point guard Kadary Richmond because of a back injury and they never looked truly in sync. Richmond’s status against Villanova is unclear.
“We’ve got to try to figure out soreness in the back, spasms and stuff like that,” Holloway said. “We gotta see how he feels the next couple days.”
Villanova won the first meeting 58-54 at home on Feb. 11.
–Field Level Media