After splitting a pair of games against top 10 teams last week, Villanova has to be careful to avoid a letdown against an unranked opponent in the finale of a three-game road trip.
On Wednesday night, the eighth-ranked Wildcats look to win their ninth straight over Providence, which should enter the game confident after snapping a 16-game losing streak in Big East play.Villanova (17-2, 5-1) bounced back from a 61-59 loss Jan. 17 at then-No. 8 Connecticut with an 83-72 win at then-No. 3 Syracuse on Saturday. After shooting 36.7 percent against the Huskies, the Wildcats hit 50 percent of their shots against the Orange, going 11 of 24 from 3-point range."We made shots," coach Jay Wright said. "You play against the zone, you make shots, you've got a chance. If you're not making shots, you're in trouble."Wright got a balanced offensive effort from his team, with four players scoring in double figures. Corey Stokes went 4 of 11 from 3-point range and finished with 16 points while Maalik Wayns scored a team-high 21.Stokes, a senior and the team's second-leading scorer, bounced back after scoring a season-low three points and going 0 for 6 from the field against the Huskies. Backcourt mate and fellow senior Corey Fisher had 16 points and seven assists against Syracuse."Their guards are good," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said of Fisher and Stokes, who combine to average 31.9 points.The Wildcats' 83 points against Syracuse marked the fourth time in six league games that they surpassed 80.After the two matchups against the Big East's elite, Villanova will try not to overlook Providence (12-8, 1-6), which upset a ranked opponent for its first win in Big East play, defeating then-No. 19 Louisville 72-67 at home on Saturday.The win snapped a 16-game losing streak in conference dating to last January."There was a lot of chanting and singing" in the locker room," coach Keno Davis said. "It was a relief for them."Villanova senior Marshon Brooks, the conference's second-leading scorer, finished with 27 points. He is averaging 25 over his last five games.Providence's defensive effort was a significant improvement from its previous four games, when it had allowed an average of 84 points. The Friars still rank second-to-last in the Big East in scoring defense, giving up 72.1 points per game."I told y'all that we just had to get over that hump," Brooks said. "I feel like we'll be all right now."Providence has lost eight straight to Villanova, including a 92-81 defeat in Philadelphia in their one meeting last season. Fisher had 22 points in that game for Villanova, while Vincent Council led the Friars with 21 off the bench.The Wildcats have scored at least 92 points in each of the last three games between these teams.