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Confident Villanova visits DePaul in Big East matchup

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DePaul opens Big East play Saturday afternoon with a tough task when they host a confident Villanova team in Chicago.

DePaul (2-8, 0-0) has the worst opening record for a Blue Demons team since the 1996-97 team started 2-8 en route to the worst record (3-23) in school history.

The Blue Demons play their Big East opener against a Villanova team that is riding the high of a 68-66 overtime win on the road against No. 12 Creighton.

Villanova (8-4, 1-0) rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit Wednesday to beat 12th-ranked Creighton behind 32 points and four 3-pointers from senior forward Eric Dixon.

“There’s never pressure to score on this team,” Dixon said. “We have guys that can beat anybody any night. It just happened to be my day. It could be someone else the next.”

Dixon leads the Wildcats’ scorers with 15.2 points per game and adds 6.9 rebounds per game. Villanova’s production is rounded out by guard Justin Moore (13.3 ppg), forward Tyler Burton (9.5 ppg, 8.0 rebounds per game) and guard Jordan Longino (9.4 ppg).

Villanova has a deep cast with seven players averaging 20 or more minutes per game.

Chico Carter (14.0 points, 4.4 assists per game) leads DePaul’s offense, with help from post players Jeremiah Oden (13.0 ppg) and Da’Sean Nelson (9.9 ppg), and guard Elijah Fisher (9.6 ppg).

“It’s challenging,” DePaul’s third-year coach Tony Stubblefield said. “My morale is, I gotta keep fighting. I’m the leader of this, and we will figure it out. But we have to dig our way out of it.”

The Blue Demons beat South Dakota and Louisville this season but lost their last game 56-46 at home to Northwestern.

Villanova had lost three straight before beating UCLA and Creighton back-to-back. The Wildcats were ranked No. 18 nationally on Nov. 27 after beating North Carolina on Nov. 23.

–Field Level Media

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