No. 1 Villanova gets big test from No. 10 Xavier (Jan 10, 2018)
Villanova returned to a familiar position in the latest Associated Press rankings released Monday.
The Wildcats are back on top.
Villanova (14-1, 2-1 Big East) moved two spots up to No. 1 after a 100-90 victory over Marquette on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Villanova also avoided losing consecutive games since the 2012-13 season and gave head coach Jay Wright his 400th career win on the Main Line since his career began in 2001.
Villanova will have another stern test when it hosts No. 10 Xavier (15-2, 3-1) Wednesday night
"I promise you that one day I'll look back on that and be humbled by it," Wright said of the 400 wins. "But right now I'm just happy we improved a little bit defensively after the loss at Butler. It's just nice to have been here for this long."
Villanova fell 101-93 at Butler on Dec. 30 in a game when the Bulldogs knocked down 15 of 22 shots from beyond the arc. Villanova held Marquette to 11 of 31 from 3-point territory.
"This was a good step for us," Wright said. "We had a long week after getting our butts kicked at Butler. This was a step in the right direction, as bad as that looked at times. They are hard to guard. Trying to prevent their 3s is really difficult. I know this sounds crazy, but holding them to 11 3s is pretty good."
Junior guard Jalen Brunson led Villanova with 27 points, Eric Paschall added 19, Mikal Bridges had 18 and freshman Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree provided a huge lift off the bench with 10 on 5-of-5 shooting.
"Dhamir was awesome," Wright said. "He works so hard, is a great kid. It's hard to come into this program as a freshman big. I thought he did a great job offensively and defensively tonight."
Xavier had its 10-game winning streak snapped with an 81-72 loss at Providence on Saturday. The Musketeers committed 21 turnovers, and senior guard Trevon Bluiett scored all 12 of his points in the first half. Bluiett was 4 of 13 from the field.
Kerem Kanter led Xavier with 24 points and 12 rebounds.
"Well, it certainly wasn't our day," Xavier coach Chris Mack told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "You give those guys a lot of credit. That's not easy when (Providence) drop a home game and turn around and play another team within 48 hours, but so is the Big East and so is our league, so we have to be able to turn the page."
Turning the page won't be easy with a trip to top-ranked Villanova.
"I thought our inability to handle the ball in the first half really put us behind the eight ball," Mack told the Enquirer. "The turnovers that we had, and Providence created some of them, we've got to be more sure-handed and better to start possessions. ... I thought we were doing a decent job out of halftime."
Mack remains one victory short of tying the wins record for a Xavier head coach held by Pete Gillen with 202.