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Struggling Villanova is surging Creighton’s next foe

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Creighton has propelled itself into contention for the Big East regular-season title with a spirited run.

The Bluejays (14-8, 8-3 Big East) will be in pursuit of their sixth consecutive victory Saturday when they entertain Villanova in Omaha, Neb.

Creighton resides in fourth place in the conference race but sits just 1 1/2 games behind co-leaders Xavier and Marquette. The Bluejays are a half-game behind third-place Providence after winning their last five games by an average of 16.4 points.

Creighton has defeated Providence and Xavier during its streak and is coming off Wednesday’s 63-53 road victory over Georgetown.

The Bluejays had a convincing 48-34 rebounding edge against the Hoyas but their shooting was suspect. Creighton shot 38.3 percent from the field, including 8 of 29 from 3-point range.

“We gutted it out. It was a gritty win,” Bluejays coach Greg McDermott said. “Over the course of the season, you gotta have some of these.”

Ryan Kalkbrenner, who leads Creighton with 15.2 points per game, had 16 points and eight rebounds against Georgetown while Baylor Scheierman added 10 points and 11 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season.

“You have to be able to win different ways, especially down the stretch,” Scheierman said. “So finding a way to win this one when we weren’t shooting it great was good for us.”

The Bluejays are 10-1 at home this season, while Villanova is just 3-6 on the road.

The Wildcats (10-12, 4-7) are struggling everywhere as they have dropped two straight games and seven of their past 10.

Villanova is playing the latter end of a two-game road swing that began with Wednesday’s 73-64 loss to No. 14 Marquette.

The Wildcats held a 61-57 lead with 6:17 to play before collapsing and being outscored 16-3 the rest of the way.

“(Marquette) made some tough plays down the stretch,” Villanova coach Kyle Neptune said. “It was a one or two possession game all the way. A rebound, a charge or a dive were big plays.”

Caleb Daniels and Eric Dixon scored 14 points apiece to pace the Wildcats. Daniels leads the program in scoring at 16.2 points per game and Dixon stands second at 15.6.

Villanova controlled the series with Creighton under former coach Jay Wright, winning 14 of the last 18 meetings.

–Field Level Media

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