Villanova, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of teams at opposite ends of the Big East Conference standings get together outside of Philadelphia on Wednesday night, as the Butler Bulldogs pay a visit to the eighth-ranked Villanova Wildcats.
Butler is coming off an 87-81 home loss to Providence on Sunday, which marked the team's sixth straight setback. It's the Bulldogs' longest losing streak since 1989-90, when they fell in 11 straight contests. As it stands, Butler is 12-15 on the season, and a dismal 2-13 in conference. The Bulldogs' last win over a ranked opponent was against No. 8 Gonzaga on Jan. 19, 2013.
Outside of a pair of lopsided losses to Creighton, Villanova has beaten all comers in the new-look Big East, the most recent of which taking place at home last weekend against St. John's, 57-54. As a result, the Wildcats own an outstanding 24-3 overall record, and they are 12-2 in conference. Villanova, which is playing its final regular-season game on campus tonight, can improve to 13-1 in front of the hometown faithful with a win.
Villanova won the first meeting of the season between these two teams in Indianapolis, 76-73, in overtime, on New Year's Eve. That was just the second encounter all-time between them, and the Wildcats also won the first during the 1996 Puerto Rico Shootout.
Kellen Dunham scored 25 points and Khyle Marshall tallied 22, but those efforts went for naught as Butler dropped a six-point decision to Providence this past Sunday. Andrew Chrabascz added 14 points and Kameron Woods grabbed 10 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who shot nearly 50 percent from the field, but allowed the Friars an eye-popping 66.7 percent, which included a 13-of-20 showing from 3-point range.
Dunham leads the team in scoring with his 16.9 ppg, and Marshall is the only other double-digit scorer with 14.9 ppg. Woods is a beast on the glass with 9.1 rpg, but he adds only 8.0 ppg to the mix. As a team, the Bulldogs are putting up 69.5 ppg while allowing 68.4 ppg, and they are being outshot from the field overall (.458 to .430), as well as from beyond the arc (.328 to .326).
It wasn't pretty, but Villanova slipped past visiting St. John's over the weekend to keep alive the team's chances at winning the Big East regular- season title. Darrun Hilliard drained four treys on his way to a game-high 18 points, while backcourt mate Ryan Arcidiacono pitched in with a dozen points, and Daniel Ochefu came up with 11 rebounds. The Wildcats shot just 39.2 percent from the field, but knocked down 9-of-22 3-point tries, while holding the Red Storm to 32.2 field goal efficiency, which included a 3-of-11 effort from downtown. Villanova committed 15 turnovers, but won the battle on the boards, 41-33.
For the season, Villanova is outscoring its opponents by an average of 11.9 ppg, thanks to solid shooting efforts of .464 overall, .364 from long range, and .724 from the foul line. In all, four players are netting double digits on a consistent basis, led by James Bell and his 15.9 ppg. JayVaughn Pinkston is next with 14.7 ppg, while Hilliard and Arcidiacono contribute 13.7 and 10.0 ppg, respectively. Bell, Pinkston and Ochefu are all averaging six caroms per contest, while Arcidiacono hands out 3.7 apg. Defensively, the 'Cats force just over 14 miscues per tilt, logging a +2.0 turnover margin while coming up with a +3.9 rebounding differential.