Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
NEW YORK – (Special Preview for Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – No. 2 Villanova used its Big East tournament opener to make a serious statement, but now its mission is revenge. The top-seeded Wildcats put up 108 points on St. John’s and now will take aim at No. 5 seed Seton Hall when the teams square off Friday at Madison Square Garden.
Donte DiVincenzo (10)
The winner of this contest will earn a spot in the tournament title game, where Villanova fell to Seton Hall a year ago. The Wildcats, of course, went on to win the NCAA Tournament, and they are 35-3 since that loss to the Pirates. Few of those games, if any, featured a better performance than Thursday’s outing in which coach Jay Wright’s team shot 63.2 percent and knocked down 15-of-29 3-pointers while racking up 23 assists and seven turnovers in a 41-point victory. “I think our guys had a great grasp of the scouting report and I think they played very intelligently,” Wright, whose team already has defeated the Pirates by a combined 52 points in two meetings this season, told reporters.
TV: 6:30 p.m. ET, FS1
ABOUT SETON HALL (21-10): The Pirates topped Marquette 82-76 on Thursday for their eighth victory in 10 games as Khadeen Carrington and Myles Powell led the way with 19 and 17 points, respectively. Angel Delgado recorded 12 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists, and likely will need another strong performance if the Pirates are to have a chance against the Wildcats. “It’s like waking up on Christmas – you’re all excited, you go down, you open up the present and you’ve got a bunch of coal,” coach Kevin Willard told reporters. “No, they’re a fantastic team. They really are.”
ABOUT VILLANOVA (29-3): Donte DiVincenzo set a career high with 25 points on 5-of-6 3-point shooting and Kris Jenkins added 24 with five 3s of his own for the Wildcats, who handed the Red Storm the worst loss in school history. Josh Hart, the Big East Player of the Year, notched 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals while Eric Paschall chipped in 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting off the bench. Jenkins averaged 19 points in the two meetings with Seton Hall this season, draining 9-of-12 3-pointers in those contests.
1. Villanova G Mikal Bridges played only one minute Thursday due to a stomach virus. His status for Friday is uncertain.
2. Wildcats G Jalen Brunson has gone 14 straight games without missing more than one free throw.
3. Delgado has recorded 13 straight double-doubles dating to an eight-point, six-rebound effort versus Villanova on Jan. 16.