No. 1 Villanova continues trip at Georgetown (Jan 17, 2018)
The top-ranked Villanova Wildcats struggled at times but were able to squeak past depleted St. John's 78-71 on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Wildcats (16-1, 4-1 in the Big East) have a similar challenge awaiting them against a team they are expected to beat when they travel down I-95 to face Georgetown on Wednesday night at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.
"That was one of those ugly road victories you just have to take, go back and watch the film, and learn from it," Villanova coach Jay Wright said after the Wildcats overcame a stellar 37-point performance by St. John's guard Shamorie Ponds.
"We didn't look good but I think the credit goes to St. John's. I thought they were outstanding defensively. They did a really good job against our guards."
Villanova received a terrific effort off the bench by ever-improving guard Donte DiVincenzo, who scored 25 points and knocked down 6 of 9 shots from 3-point territory.
"The last thing I come in to look for is scoring," DiVincenzo said. "The shots just went down tonight."
Mikal Bridges added 15 points and 11 rebounds, Jalen Brunson contributed 12 points and Omari Spellman had 10 as the Wildcats won for the 13th straight time over the Red Storm.
The next stop on their three-game trip will be at Georgetown and will conclude Saturday at Connecticut.
Wright will be in search of his 403rd career win on the Main Line since taking over in 2001. The program's leader for victories is Al Severance, who won 413 games from 1936-61.
Villanova has won six in a row against Georgetown and is 9-4 all-time against the Hoyas on the road. Georgetown's last win in this series came on Jan. 19, 2015, a 78-58 victory.
In Georgetown's last game, junior forward Marcus Derrickson had 18 points and 10 rebounds in its 74-61 loss to No. 13 Seton Hall at the Prudential Center. The Hoyas fell to 12-5 overall and 2-4 in the Big East.
"We have to do a better job of not turning the ball over," Georgetown rookie head coach Patrick Ewing told the program's athletic website. "We got off to a great start but then we started turning the ball over and let them back in the game."
Junior forward Kaleb Johnson scored 14 points while junior center Jessie Govan and freshman guard Jahvon Blair added 11 points apiece.
Ewing continued harping on turnovers and missed shots after building an early 12-3 lead.
"We can't turn it over that way," Ewing told reporters. "We missed layups. We need to get easy baskets. Our offense needs to improve. As a team, we have to stop turning it over."
The Hoyas shot 36 percent from the field and committed 16 turnovers. They led briefly 31-30 with 5:31 remaining in the first half before the Pirates scored the final 14 points of the half and seized control.
In last year's matchup in Washington, D.C., Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins combined for 40 points in an 81-55 Villanova rout.