Villanova looks to continue dominance vs. Marquette (Jan 24, 2017)

BY AP • January 23, 2017

MILWAUKEE -- Jay Wright openly admits that despite being a top-ranked team in the nation and leading the Big East Conference, his Villanova Wildcats are still feeling a bit of a hangover following their national championship run a year ago.

"It's definitely there," Wright said after Villanova's victory over Providence Saturday in Philadelphia. "It's something you have to deal with all the time, and as you have success it continues, and I'm sure when it comes NCAA Tournament time, it's going to be (even stronger).

"I get it. Everybody said it to me and if someone asks me next year I would say the same thing, that it's there and you really, really have to address it and deal with it. Every day."

Judging from the numbers, though, it's hard to see: Villanova comes into their game Tuesday against host Marquette ranked first in the AP poll and second in the coaches' survey. The Wildcats have lost just once this season -- on the road to No. 8 Butler -- and currently are tied with Duke for the best start to a season by a defending national champ.

"We just have to continue to get better," said Kris Jenkins, who is averaging a career-best 14.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals. "I believe every guy in our locker room wants to continue to grow and become better. We're not just satisfied with something we did last year. This is a brand-new year."

The Wildcats have won nine in a row against Marquette, including a 93-81 decision earlier this month in Philadelphia.

Markus Howard led four Marquette players in double figures with 21 points and the Golden Eagles knocked down 14 3-pointers as a team. Despite that performance, Villanova shot 65 percent from the floor and 61 percent from beyond the arc to bounce back from its only loss of the season.

"They're really good," Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. "They put you on so many binds on both ends of the floor. ... I didn't think we played as hard as we could possibly play when we were in Philadelphia. I don't know if we play our butts off for 40 minutes if that's going to translate into a win, but we can play a lot harder than we did in Philadelphia."

Marquette is feeling confident after recording its first road victory of the Big East season, a 102-94 shootout over Creighton Saturday in Omaha.

Katin Reinhardt was one of seven players to score in double figures, leading the team with 21. Luke Fischer added 18 with six rebounds.

"I think our team gained some confidence from being able to go against an outstanding team in a tough venue and leaving there with a win," Wojciechowski said.

Howard went 1-for-4 from distance against the Blue Jays but leads the conference with a 50.6 3-point percentage. The Golden Eagles as a team are the league's best 3-point shooters, connecting on 41.7 percent of their shots.

The Wildcats have dominated the series with Marquette, posting a 20-9 record against the Golden Eagles.



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