Coming off wins at DePaul and against Xavier last week, Creighton men’s basketball fell one spot short of the AP Top 25 Poll. Currently sitting at 16-5, the Jays travel to face No. 8 Villanova on Saturday.
Creighton fell 64-59 against Villanova on Jan. 7 after hitting just two field goals in the final seven minutes of the game. Christian Bishop was the only Jay to score in double figures with 16 points while also grabbing nine rebounds.
While Creighton shot below its averages from the floor, they were also able to hold Villanova to just 38% from the floor and 18% from three point range. Junior guard Collin Gillespie hurt the Jays, scoring 24 points on 8-for10 shooting and 4-for-5 from three point range.
“Collin Gillespie just controls the game… He doesn’t take a bad shot. He quarterbacks that team,” coach Greg McDermott said after the loss earlier this month.
To pull off the road upset, the Jays will look to limit the junior, particularly not allowing him to find space behind the three point line where he had half his points in the first meeting.
Creighton should also look to prioritize getting out in transition. While Creighton held the edge in fast break points in the previous meeting, it only scored four points in transition. Villanova turned the ball over just five times throughout the game, limiting Creighton’s ability to play a fast-tempo game.
Creighton’s top three scorers combined for just 23 points on 9-for-30 shooting. If the Jays have any chance of winning on the road, it will need more from its top contributors.
These three keys, limiting Gillespie, getting out into transition and getting more contribution from the top scorers, could give Creighton an edge over the Wildcats.
Since joining the Big East, Creighton is 1-5 on the road against Villanova, with the one win coming in 2014 when the Jays exploded with 21 threes.
Winning in Philadelphia is a tough task, but if the Jays can put it all together and continue to play strong defense, the game will be theirs for the taking.