Xavier tries to prevent Villanova from trying school record

AP

VILLANOVA, Pa. — Third-ranked Villanova will have a chance to tie a remarkable record when it hosts No. 15 Xavier Tuesday night at The Pavilion.

Coverage begins tonight at 6:30 p.m. on FS1

The Wildcats (15-1, 3-1 Big East) are in search of their 46th consecutive victory at their cozy 6,500-seat on-campus arena on the Main Line. They also won 46 straight games here from 2007-11.

For Villanova to match this record, it will have to defeat a very potent Xavier team, which has won six in a row and improved to 13-2 and 3-0 in the Big East following a 97-82 win over St. John’s on Saturday.

After an eight-point loss at No. 18 Butler last Wednesday, the Wildcats bounced back with a commanding 93-81 victory over Marquette Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Villanova, which dropped two spots to No. 3 in the latest poll released Monday afternoon, led by 30 points late in the second half.

Senior Kris Jenkins, who knocked down the game-winning 3-pointer over North Carolina to capture last season’s national championship, led the way with 23 points. Preseason National Player of the Year candidate Josh Hart scored 19 points and made some clutch baskets down the stretch.

“We’re just learning as we go along,” Jenkins said. “We’ve got some new guys in some new roles with our three senior leaders. It’s something that we’re working on and getting better at.”

Redshirt freshman guard Donte DiVincenzo played one of his strongest games all season and finished with eight points and a career-high six assists in 29 minutes.

“He’s a big part of this team,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “Being hurt last year, he not only missed a lot of games but a lot of teaching time in practice. He can really pass the ball. He can really score and rebound. We need him. Donte gives us great versatility. He’s big for us.”

Xavier, the last remaining unbeaten team in the Big East, will feature an upgraded roster with the return of senior guard Myles Davis. He was added to the active roster as of Sunday, following a suspension for two misdemeanor criminal charges reportedly connected with a former girlfriend. Davis missed the first 15 games this season.

“Beginning tomorrow (Monday), Myles Davis is going to be reinstated to our basketball program,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said in a prepared statement. “He’s met the terms of his suspension, which were outlined to him at the beginning of the school year when he was suspended. I think he learned some valuable lessons from his mistakes, his 15-game long suspension and his reinstatement. I think he needs to continue to make good choices in order to keep his standing within our program.

“He’s obviously had a long road to this point. His role on our basketball team will be no different from the other 14 guys in our locker room. He’ll earn everything he gets from this point forward. So he has a lot of work to do and I think he recognizes that and understands that. We now move forward with Myles as part of our team.”

Junior Trevon Bluiett leads the Musketeers in scoring (17.7 points) and recorded a team-best eight 20-point performances this season. Edmond Sumner ranks second on the team in scoring (15.6) and first in assists (4.9).

“I’m really happy with our effort,” Mack told the Cincinnati Enquirer following the 15-point win over St. John’s. “I thought we played really unselfish. … I think we’re finding the open man a little bit better than we did earlier in the year, so, yeah, it was definitely an efficient game offensively.

“We shot the eyes out of the ball in the first half. In the second half, had we made more free throws, we’d score over 100 points. Again, you do that against a team that pressures and is as athletic as St. John’s is, you take it.”