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Villanova can improve to 3-0 in Big East, faces Xavier

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Villanova will seek its fourth consecutive victory when it hosts Xavier in a Big East matchup on Wednesday.

The Wildcats (9-4, 2-0 Big East) defeated UCLA, Creighton and DePaul to close out the 2023 portion of the schedule.

On Dec. 23, they crushed the Blue Demons 84-48 in Chicago behind 20 points from Hakim Hart, 12 from Eric Dixon and 11 from TJ Bamba.

“We try to treat each game as its own entity, but I thought we showed growth this week,” Villanova coach Kyle Neptune said after the win over DePaul. “It’s never easy getting wins on the road in the Big East. We’re happy to get two, but it’s a long season.”

Villanova was able to extend its winning streak without standout guard Justin Moore, who has been sidelined with a knee injury sustained in the first half of a 72-71 overtime loss at Kansas State on Dec. 5.

It’s unclear if Moore will be able to return to face the Musketeers.

Villanova and Xavier split the season series a year ago, with each team winning on the road.

Xavier (7-6, 1-1) beat Seton Hall 74-54 on Dec. 23 for its third win in four games.

Quincy Olivari scored 29 points for the Musketeers. Abou Ousmane had 16 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots, while Dayvion McKnight contributed 15 points and 10 assists.

While all three players contributed mightily to the victory, coach Sean Miller was especially impressed with Ousmane’s performance. It was the second double-double this season for Ousmane.

“When you get a double-double in this league, it means you had a really good game,” Miller said. “It means you were an incredible player on that particular night.”

This young group of Musketeers has struggled against zone defenses this season. That was not the case against the Pirates. Xavier dropped in a season-best 10 shots from 3-point range.

“I was happy to see our guys respond when we had the ball against the zone,” Miller said.

–Field Level Media

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