The Associated Press released its latest college basketball rankings on Monday morning (January 20th). The Villanova Wildcats rose two spots from #6 to #4 in the nation. Creighton, on the other hand, fell out of the top 25 (following a loss at Providence) after being ranked #20 the previous week. Perhaps, The Associated Press should have waited one more day before releasing its rankings. On Monday night, at the Wells-Fargo Center, the Blue Jays of Creighton bombarded the Villanova Wildcats from long-range, hitting a Big East Conference record 21 three-pointers in their wire to wire win. Ethan Wragge hit his first seven three-pointers early in the contest, to catapult the Blue Jays to a resounding 27-8 lead. Wragge appeared capable of hitting any shot he launched and the fans of Nova Nation began to wonder if he would ever miss. On the night, Wragge hit 9 of 14, all from long range, to end up as the game’s high scorer with 27 points.
Doug McDermott, coach Greg McDermott’s son, and the only returning first team All American player from last season, was as good as advertised. McDermott ended up with 23 points (5 of 8 three-pointers), 5 rebounds, and 2 assists in 28 minutes of play. McDermott’s line might have been even more impressive under other circumstances but with Creighton’s lead ballooned to 40 points in the second half, he closed out the last several minutes of the game on the bench. Jahenns Manigat also added 19 points for the visitors. Creighton shot 33 of 58 from the field (56.9%) with 25 assists, including 10 by Austin Chatman. The Blue Jays hit a remarkable 60% of their three point shots (21 of 35) and won the battle of the boards 34-32 over Villanova.
For Villanova, James Bell was its high scorer with 19 points. JayVaughn Pinkston chipped in 11, and Darrun Hilliard had 10 points.
Despite being down early in the first half, Villanova cut the lead to 13 heading into half-time. However, the second half began much like the first, with Villanova unable to prevent Creighton’s dribble penetration, crisp passing, and ability to knock down wide open three-pointers (every time the Wildcats defense collapsed on the post or into a double team). The 13 point lead soon got out of hand and there was nothing Villanova could do to bring it back down to earth.
With the victory, Creighton takes over first place in the Big East with a record of 6-1. Villanova drops to #2 in the conference at 5-1.
Villanova will have to look to get back to their winning ways on the road as their next three games come away from the Pavilion/Wells-Fargo Center. Up next will be a game at Marquette on Saturday. Creighton will face its next three opponents from the comforts of home, beginning on Saturday when they host Georgetown.