It was New Year’s Eve, but it sure felt like March to Josh Hart and the rest of the top-ranked Villanova Wildcats.
The defending national champions overcame an early 10-point deficit, Hart’s slow start and a frenzied crowd to defeat No. 10 Creighton 80-70 on Saturday.
“It’s good to get in here, play Villanova basketball against a tough team and have something we can build on,” Hart said. “We know we can get a lot better. In March we can say we played in a tough environment. We faced adversity and we overcame it.”
Jalen Brunson scored a career-high 27 points, including 11 in a row as the Wildcats wiped out their early deficit, and Villanova (14-0, 2-0 Big East) extended its school-record winning streak to 20 games.
The game marked only the second time in Big East history that two unbeaten teams met in a conference game, and it lived up to the hype with nine lead changes and five ties before the Wildcats pulled away late.
Kris Jenkins added 21 points and Hart had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the defending national champions.
Marcus Foster led the Bluejays (13-1, 1-1) with 22 points. Justin Patton had 18 points and eight rebounds.
“Certainly disappointed we lost, but a great learning experience for us,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “Villanova is terrific. We knew they we were terrific and knew it would take a great effort to win.”
The Wildcats were the first defending national champion to visit Omaha since 1946, and the third-largest crowd (18,831) in the CenturyLink Center’s 13-year history was there to greet them. The…
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