The No. 1-ranked Villanova Wildcats (21-1) tipped-off the month of February against the Creighton Bluejays (17-6), yielding the best 22-game start in program history. It was the first time Creighton got to see Villanova this season, and it got to experience the wrath of the Wildcats, as ‘Nova won 98-78.
Per usual, the Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges duo were at the forefront for the Wildcats. Bridges scored a game-high 21 points, while Brunson had 19.
However, every member of Villanova’s starting five eclipsed double figures. Donte DiVincenzo was right behind them with 17. Omari Spellman added 14, while Eric Paschall chipped in 11.
Brunson was a weapon on the court tonight, demonstrating his NBA talent to the fullest potential. He surpassed the century-mark in assists for the third straight year. Aside from that, he was getting buckets too.
“We couldn’t guard Brunson man to man,” Creighton head coach Greg McDermott said of the loss. “There were 67 possessions and we scored 78 points. We had a few turnovers and a couple of blown assignments.”
With the game tied at 18, early in the first half, Brunson nailed back-to-back baskets that would spark the run that ultimately decide the game. Villanova outscored Creighton 31-16 over the final 12 minutes of the opening half, to take a 49-34 lead.
“I’m not in the NBA, but if I was I would want that guy on my team,” McDermott said of Brunson. “His toughness, the leadership skills...are off the chart. That type of offense with the ball in Jalen’s hands is hard to guard.”
The second half was more of the same, as Villanova’s lead never dropped into single digits. It was also an opportunity for other players to show off what they can do, as Villanova emptied the bench.
Collin Gillespie had a solid game off the bench. He finished with eight points, including a pair of threes. However, he was most impressive as a facilitator, racking up five dimes.
“Gillespie’s emergence against a team like Creighton...you need more perimeter guys,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “He sparked us. He got people shots. Big game for him coming off a broken hand.”
With 1:51 to go in the game, Paschall drained a three-pointer, the 19th of the game for Villanova—tying a program record for most made treys in a game. The last time Villanova achieved such a feat was in a blowout of St. Joe’s.
Shortly after, Peyton Heck, Tom Leibig, Matt Kennedy and Denny Grace got to check in, much to the fans’ delight.
For Creighton, Marcus Foster ended the night with another total of 20 points, his fifth-straight game where he met the mark. Khyri Thomas was a perfect 5-of-5 on the floor, but only had 12 points, not nearly enough to make an impact.
“It was a good effort for us tonight against Creighton, being an incredibly explosive teamWright said. “Our three freshmen [Spellman, Gillespie, and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree] stepped up, they’re the key in Phil being gone.”
As a whole, the Wildcats were an impressive 37-of-68 on the floor (54.4 percent) and 19-of-39 (48.7 percent) from deep.
“Villanova is the most efficient of an offensive team that I’ve ever coached against, and I’ve seen some pretty good ones,” McDermott said.
With that being said, the Cats chased down the Bluejays, wore them down with offense, and shot them down from the sky.
Next the Cats will look toward their next target, with that being the Seton Hall Pirates this Sunday the 4th, 12:00 pm EST at the Wells Fargo Center.