The Creighton Bluejays opened up Big East play with an impressive 79-59 victory over the Villanova Wildcats on Friday night.
This game was everything you would love from a Big East matchup. In the early going, Villanova and Creighton traded buckets. On the metaphorical seesaw, Creighton went on an eventual run to take a nine point advantage into the halftime break. The second half pace was frantic. Villanova got as close as two points with eight minutes to go, but another Creighton run buried the Wildcats and handed them their first and only conference loss of the season.
For the Bluejays, this was an impressive, resume builder, kind of win. All three of their ‘Ryans’ (Hawkins, Nembhard, and Kalkbrenner) were outstanding, carrying the Bluejays to victory. Additional contributions were added to the stat sheet from Arthur Kaluma and Duke transfer Alex O’Connell, both adding double digit efforts in the win. Creighton started the second half going blow-for-blow with Villanova and ended it with an impressive run. Creighton looked all the parts of a top-25 team in the country with this win. They have a perfect mix of experience, youth, depth and size that could cause problems for teams come March. This is the first of many conference wins for Creighton in what is shaping up to be an impressive season.
As for Villanova, yikes. This is an ugly as a win as I can remember. Coming off a loss to Baylor in which they scored only 36 points, you would have expected a nice bounce-back win, but the Cat’s left a lot to be desired. Collin Gillespie did everything in his power in the early parts of the second half to mount a comeback against a formidable road opponent, but his efforts fell short in the end. As previously mentioned, Villanova closed the lead to two point in the late stages of the second half. An inexcusable 23-5 run capped off the remainder of the game and the Wildcats will fall to 0-1 to start conference play early in the year.
Up next for the Wildcats will be Xavier on Tuesday, December, 21st. Xavier is currently number twenty-two in the nation and will be an extremely tough test for the reeling Wildcats. Villanova will most likely be elated to be returning home to play only their fourth home game of the year. Wether or not Villanova will be ranked come Monday is yet to be seen, but Villanova’s matchup with Xavier will certainly be a litmus test to determine the rest of the conference schedule. Struggling on both offense AND defense, the Wildcats will look to get back on track with a lot of basketball yet to be played.
*If you enjoyed the tweets stemming from @becb_sbn tonight for the Villanova vs. Creighton game, give @tommygodinjr a follow on twitter!