After five losses in its first seven games, Villanova has won five of the last six.
Even in the Wildcats’ last defeat, they nearly pulled off a huge upset as they fell 74-66 to No. 2 UConn on Wednesday in Hartford, Conn.
Villanova (7-6, 1-1 Big East) pulled within two late in the game and began to look like the team first-year coach Kyle Neptune envisioned when he took over for Hall of Famer Jay Wright.
Now the Wildcats host Marquette on Saturday afternoon.
Caleb Daniels led the way with 23 points versus UConn and Eric Dixon added 18 points and eight rebounds.
“We know we have great leadership on this team, especially with (Daniels and Dixon),” Neptune said. “We rely on them, especially defensively, and I thought they played a really good game there. They always lead our young guys.”
What hurt Villanova was a season-high 18 turnovers against the Huskies’ suffocating defense.
“They got into us with their full-court pressure defense,” Neptune said. “Just had a couple of mishaps.”
There’s also help on the way, though it’s unclear exactly when Justin Moore (Achilles) will return. Moore has returned to perform some light workouts.
Marquette (10-4, 2-1) will look to build on its positive momentum following an 83-69 victory over Seton Hall on Tuesday.
The Golden Eagles’ relentless defense forced 15 turnovers and came up with 11 steals.
“Just the energy that they were giving and the activity with their hands,” Marquette coach Shaka Smart said. “We felt like we really needed deflections to disrupt some of the things Seton Hall was trying to do.”
Oso Ighodaro produced a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, Olivier-Maxence Prosper added 15 points and Kameron Jones had 14 in the balanced effort.
Tyler Kolek also contributed eight assists and no turnovers. It was Kolek’s third career game with at least eight assists and no turnovers.
“I thought our guys did a really good job when we practiced on Christmas Day, of just locking in on growing from the Providence game,” Smart said. “And looking at what we needed to do against Seton Hall and taking a business-like approach.”
Marquette won both meetings against Villanova last season.
–Field Level Media