|1:00 ET, Feb 20, 2021
Finneran Pavilion, Villanova, Pennsylvania
No. 10 Villanova looks to rebound vs. surging UConn
After a rough outing at then-No. 19 Creighton, Villanova will look to regain its winning ways when it hosts Connecticut on Saturday.
The No. 10-ranked Wildcats (13-3, 8-2 Big East) were blitzed 86-70 as the Bluejays shot 59.3 percent from the field. It was the most points allowed by the Wildcats in any game this season.
"We'll get back to practice and work on the little details we need to take care of to get better," Collin Gillespie said.
In all three losses this season -- Virginia Tech, St. John's and Creighton -- Villanova was unable to control the tempo. That trend must change if it hopes to start a new winning streak against the Huskies.
"It was similar to our St. John's game," Villanova head coach Jay Wright said of the loss to Creighton. "I think they really sped us up, and we lost our decision-making. We had poor decision-making, and I give them credit for it. Our guys were ready; their intensity and speed defensively are what bothered us."
Justin Moore led the way with 21 points, and Jermaine Samuels contributed 16. But Gillespie and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl combined to shoot 6-of-25 for 16 points.
"They catch and shoot it really quickly," Wright said. "And they make hard cuts. They play really fast, and we have struggled with that. It's something we've got to get better at. It's difficult for us to simulate in practice, and we don't have a lot of time to practice. That tempo has bothered us."
Connecticut will be searching for its third consecutive win following impressive victories over Xavier and Providence.
James Bouknight and Tyrese Martin scored 18 points apiece, R.J. Cole added 13 and Isaiah Whaley contributed three blocked shots as the Huskies improved to 10-5 overall and 7-5 in the conference with a 73-61 win over the Friars last Tuesday.
Bouknight's return from an eight-game absence with an elbow injury was a major boost in his 25 minutes of action.
"It's been the teammates and the staff that's kept me positive throughout this process," Bouknight said. "They just told me how good I was, and to go out there and play my game. ... I just really wanted to help the team win."
The Huskies went 4-4 without Bouknight. They're obviously a much better team with him in the lineup.
"He was better than I thought he was," Connecticut head coach Dan Hurley said. "He stumbled around a bit out there, but you're talking about one of the premier guards in the country."
With Bouknight, the Huskies are more than capable of playing their way into the NCAA Tournament. They've dealt with a litany of injuries to various players but are finally starting to come back healthy.
"This group did a really good job holding on and winning enough so our season didn't blow up (without Bouknight)," Hurley said. "And now we're almost fully loaded here with five games to go and see what we can do."
Connecticut's rebounding was dominant against Providence with a 42-32 edge.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 18, 2021