Creighton-Villanova Preview

BY foxsports • February 2, 2016

Villanova's Daniel Ochefu was a major presence under the basket against Creighton last month. A concussion will cost him a chance at a repeat performance.

The third-ranked Wildcats turn to reserve Darryl Reynolds to replace their starting forward again as they go for a fourth straight win over the Bluejays on Wednesday night.

Ochefu is fourth in the Big East with 8.3 rebounds per game, third with 1.9 blocks and his 9.7 points are a career high. The senior pivot had one of his best efforts of the season at Creighton on Jan. 2, scoring 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting and grabbing seven rebounds in an 85-71 victory.

Ochefu, however, isn't available this time. He's already been ruled out for a second straight game after being hit in the head by an errant elbow in practice last week.

Villanova (18-3, 8-1) struggled without him early Sunday against last-place St. John's, shooting 7 for 30 in the first half. The Wildcats bounced back with a 14-for-28 effort in the second half and finished with a 48-35 advantage on the boards to win 68-53.

Reynolds chipped in with four points and nine rebounds in a career-high 29 minutes.

"We know Darryl Reynolds is ready to step up," guard Josh Hart told the team's official website. "When we get news like we did on Daniel, the first thing is that we hope Daniel gets better and that he has a speedy recovery. But we see Darryl every day in practice and we see him battling. There are times when he's giving D.O. problems.

"All of us have to step up."

Hart did his part Sunday, scoring 16 points while pulling down 11 boards for his fifth double-double in the past seven games. He's scored in double figures in all 21 games this season and has averaged 16.0 points and 9.5 rebounds over the last four contests.

He had 25 points on 10 of 14 from the floor against Creighton (14-8, 5-4) last month after totaling 24 points over his previous four matchups.

Villanova shot a season-high 68.0 percent from the field in that game and limited them to 5 for 23 from 3-point range. The Wildcats cruised to a 71-50 win in the most recent matchup at The Pavilion on Jan. 25, 2015, but coach Jay Wright isn't taking Creighton lightly.

"Creighton is always a scary game for us," Wright said. "They play a very similar style to ours and like to play fast."

The Bluejays are trying to avoid a season-high third straight defeat after losing the rebounding battle 46-27 en route to a 75-65 defeat to Seton Hall on Saturday.

"We haven't had many games this season where we just didn't have it from start to finish. Tonight was certainly one of those," coach Greg McDermott said. "The domination on the glass was certainly a big factor."

Reserve guard James Milliken scored a season-best 21 points after averaging 6.0 on 21.6 percent shooting - 1 for 14 from long range - over the five prior games.

Leading scorer Maurice Watson Jr. had 14 points in Saturday's defeat. Watson is averaging 16.8 points over the last four games, but he's missed 7 of 8 from beyond the arc.

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