|No. 9 Villanova set for Big East clash with No. 13 Butler|
No. 13 Butler will look to restore its former momentum following two consecutive Big East Conference defeats and a fall from the top five in the national rankings.
After winning their first three conference games, the No. 5 Bulldogs have lost consecutive league games to Seton Hall and DePaul.
The two-game skid comes amid a three-game spate of conference games in a seven-day period for the Bulldogs (15-3, 3-2 Big East) that concludes with Tuesday's tilt at No. 9 Villanova (14-3, 4-1).
Butler compounded that disappointing home loss to Seton Hall on Wednesday by committing 17 turnovers in one of their worst games of the season Saturday in a 79-66 road loss to the Blue Demons.
In the most recent defeat, the Bulldogs had their 11-game series winning streak snapped by allowing DePaul to shot 10 of 17 on 3-pointers while giving up a season high in points. The Bulldogs' stingy defense allowed nearly 80 points in each defeat.
"It's going be difficult if we're putting people on the line 32 times in a game. That's an issue," Butler coach LaVall Jordan said. "We've got to be able to defend without fouling. If we turn the ball over 17 times, that's not the formula to have a chance in this league. We've got to be better as coaches. Our guys just have to understand every night in the Big East, this is what it is."
Kamar Baldwin leads the Bulldogs in scoring at 15.1 points per game, while Sean McDermott is second at 11.5 points.
Villanova enters the game playing its most consistent basketball of the season, limiting opponents to 63.2 points over its last 10 games. The Wildcats managed to limit Connecticut to 2-for-15 shooting from 3-point range in Saturday's 61-55 victory to extend their winning streak to four games.
"I think we were really aggressive in off the ball situations with the help," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "When they were driving the ball, our help defense was really aggressive. Young players are usually decent on the ball. But when they're off the ball, they're not that good. We're getting better at that. It was definitely part of our ability to create turnovers the other day."
The Wildcats wrap up a run of four consecutive home games that helped turn around their season to move them into second in the Big East. Villanova's success hinges on solid play in close games, with an 8-0 record in games decided by 10 points or less. Junior Jermaine Samuels has been on a hot streak, averaging better than 13 points in his last nine games.
"I think it's just a great thing to know that everybody's on board," Samuels said. "Winning helps, obviously. At the end of the day we're going to come back, get better, and learn from our mistakes. The best thing about this team is that we're all focused on being the best team we can be by the end of the year."
--Field Level Media