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The Sun’s Arizin: Eric Dixon is Unlocking Villanova Basketball’s Offense

The Wildcat’s big man has been exceptional over Nova’s six game winning streak

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Happy Tuesday Nova Nation! Our good friend Emma Houghton from The State Of The Nova Nation Podcast posed an interesting question during the Butler game on Sunday:

It certainly has been great to see Antoine starting to contribute as part of the rotation, and the expanse of the rotation helps too. Of course during this winning streak it’s probably easier to point to the guys that have been on a tear in Gillespie and Moore. But for me, there’s one player who’s marked improvement in the last six games stands above the rest. That would be big man Eric Dixon.

The easiest improvements to point to over the recent winning streak is Dixon’s stat lines. Not only are is his scoring and rebounding up, but he’s doing it far more efficiently than where he was just a month ago.

But I think more indicative of his impact is the trust that the coaching staff is showing in him. Even with the roster expanding over the last six games, Dixon saw 30+ minutes in five of his last six games, all but the blowout vs Creighton. So not only is the coaching staff leaving him out there longer, his conditioning is getting better.

Dixon is also having more of the offense flow through is position. While Gillespie and Moore will always be the initiators of the offense, they’re running plays to get Dixon in one on one situations in the post or the interior wing. And when teams are getting beat by him and try to front, it just opens up spacing on the floor for the guards to drive the lane.

Lastly, it’s no secret that Nova hasn’t been shooting as well as many expected from deep. The shooting will come, it always does. But in the meantime, Dixon has been able to help mitigate poor shooting nights with outstanding offensive rebounding. He’s currently ranked 2nd in conference play for offensive rebounding % among Big East players. Dixon leads the team in total rebounds and offensive rebounds, which is important when you consider that the Wildcats are undefeated when out rebounding their opponents.

To be sure, there are a lot of contributing factors to Villanova’s recent run of success. Collin Gillespie has gearing up to All-American form. Justin Moore not only rediscovered his shooting stroke, but leads the team in defensive rebounding. Caleb Daniels has been a reliable contributor on both sides of the ball off the bench. And yes, Bryan Antoine is helping to keep his teammates legs fresh while he works himself into being another weapon off the bench. But still, it’s been the sophomore leap that Dixon continues to make that has been the driving force behind Villanova’s latest win streak.

In other news,

Villanova Defeats Butler

Butler Bulldogs basketball routed by Villanova in Big East laugher | Indy Star
No. 14 Villanova shot 60% and held Butler to 31%, leading to an 82-42 humiliation Sunday in Big East basketball at the Wells Fargo Center.

No. 14 Villanova hits 12 3s in 82-42 romp over Butler | AP News
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jay Wright heard hollering from the Villanova fans who lingered at a bar near his postgame news conference and the Hall of Fame coach needed a score update. “Who's up?” It was bad news for Wright — the Philadelphia Eagles were losing a playoff game.

No. 14 Villanova batters Butler, 82-42 | The Inquirer
Former Abington High star Eric Dixon delivered 14 points on 6 of 7 shooting, five rebounds, and a career-high four assists.

Dixon Leads 'Cats to 82-42 Demolition of Butler |
After scoring 14 points on 6-7 shooting and terrorizing Butler in the post, redshirt sophomore forward Eric Dixon hesitated when asked if he was feeling confident.

Villanova Men’s Basketball

Jordan Longino isn't your typical Villanova basketball freshman | Philadelphia Inquirer
Longino is finding more court time lately for Villanova.

Villanova guard Bryan Antoine is finally healthy after long battle with injuries | Philadelphia Inquirer
The former McDonald's All-American, whose 2 1/2 seasons at Villanova have been marred by a series of injuries, has recently worked his way into Jay Wright's rotation.

Villanova pushes winning streak to six games after shaking disappointing start |
The Wildcats demolished Butler on Sunday as they seem locked in on capturing another Big East regular-season title

No. 11 Villanova, Marquette ride win streaks into Big East clash | Sports Naut
No. 11 Villanova will look for its seventh consecutive victory when it hosts Marquette on Wednesday in Philadelphia, Pa.

Big East

State of the Big East Betting Report: Can Any Team Challenge Villanova? | Action Network
As conference play continues to roll on, Shane McNichol dives into the Big East to provide the third iteration of the State of the League.

Big 5

Preview: Saint Joe’s v. La Salle, An A-10 and Big 5 Combo | A10 Talk
Philadelphia, PA - Saint Joseph's and La Salle will look to face one another today at Hagan Arena in what is the final Big 5 matchup for both teams. This game has also been named the “Martin Luther King Jr. Day Series”, with this being the second of a 'home and home' series on the…

NBA Wildcats

NBA Rumors: Here's What Jalen Brunson Is Seeking On Next Contract | NBA Analysis
The Dallas Mavericks will need to work to retain Jalen Brunson in the NBA offseason. Here's what he's seeking on his next contract.

Knicks reportedly very interested in Jalen Brunson, "They want him bad" | NBC Sports
The Knicks are looking for the long-term answer at point guard and a new report says they are very interested in Jalen Brunson of the Mavericks.

Villanova Women’s Basketball

RECAP: Villanova Wildcats 58, Marquette Women’s Basketball 55 | Anonymous Eagle
An early funk led to a close game all the way through, but the Wildcats held the advantage at the end.

Villanova University

Dr. King spoke truth at Villanova field house nearly 57 years ago | Philadelpia Inquirer
The student body president who introduced him recalls his extraordinary command of language and urges us all to speak clearly.

Villanova Athletics

Montesi and Routledge sweep appearances in win at Rutgers | Villanova University
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Senior Kelly Montesi (Greenwich, Conn.) and graduate Milly Routledge (North Ascot, U.K.) each won both of their individual swims and were on a