NOVA
CREIGH

No Text

Brunson's career-high 27 lifts No. 1 Nova over Bluejays

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) It was New Year's Eve, but it sure felt like March to Josh Hart and the rest of the top-ranked Villanova Wildcats.

The defending national champions overcame an early 10-point deficit, Hart's slow start and a frenzied crowd to defeat No. 10 Creighton 80-70 on Saturday.

''It's good to get in here, play Villanova basketball against a tough team and have something we can build on,'' Hart said. ''We know we can get a lot better. In March we can say we played in a tough environment. We faced adversity and we overcame it.''

Jalen Brunson scored a career-high 27 points, including 11 in a row as the Wildcats wiped out their early deficit, and Villanova (14-0, 2-0 Big East) extended its school-record winning streak to 20 games.

The game marked only the second time in Big East history that two unbeaten teams met in a conference game, and it lived up to the hype with nine lead changes and five ties before the Wildcats pulled away late.

Kris Jenkins added 21 points and Hart had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats.

Marcus Foster led the Bluejays (13-1, 1-1) with 22 points. Justin Patton had 18 points and eight rebounds.

''Certainly disappointed we lost, but a great learning experience for us,'' Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. ''Villanova is terrific. We knew they we were terrific and knew it would take a great effort to win.''

The Wildcats were the first defending national champion to visit Omaha since 1946, and the third-largest crowd (18,831) in the CenturyLink Center's 13-year history was there to greet them. The towel-waving fans filled the seats early and made the building as loud as it's ever been as the Bluejays ran onto the court. Creighton used that fuel to make its first five shots and build a quick 10-point lead.

''I'm happy this is my last time here,'' Hart said. ''This environment is crazy, it's hectic. When they get on a run, you hear it. We'll be talking on the court and we can barely hear what we're saying. One time Coach called a play, I had no idea what he was calling. Kris was 5 feet away trying to tell me, and I was like, `What are you saying?'''

After Isaiah Zierden's 3-pointer with 4:47 left tied it at 66, the Bluejays missed four straight shots before Maurice Watson Jr. snaked his way for a layup to cut the deficit to five with a minute left. The Wildcats made all six of their free throws in the last 36 seconds to finish off the win.

Brunson and Hart hit clutch shots to keep Villanova mostly in control the second half. Donte DiVincenzo's tear-drop shot put Villanova up 63-54 before Patton's two dunks started a 9-0 run that tied it with 7:41 to play. Creighton went cold after that, and Villanova ran off to its fifth straight win over the Bluejays.

''We knew we had to stick to what we were doing,'' Hart said, ''and that's just being solid and playing Villanova basketball for 40 minutes. We know against the best teams it's going to take 40 minutes. This is a great team, one of the best in our league.''

BIG PICTURE

Villanova: The Wildcats showed the mettle of a champion in maybe the most challenging atmosphere in which they'll play this season.

Creighton: In a game with nine lead changes and five ties, the Bluejays went toe-to-toe with Villanova until the last 4 minutes and still look like a team capable of making a deep run in March.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Villanova remains a solid No. 1, and Creighton does not merit a demotion from No. 10 after giving the Wildcats all they wanted.

HE SAID IT

''It's a completely different crew, completely different team, and we're playing differently. But they have to deal with everyone else's impact from last season. They have to deal with everybody treating them like the No. 1 team, like former national champions, still talking about last year. It's part of the responsibility. It's a good challenge to have.'' Villanova coach Jay Wright, on how his players have handled expectations during a 14-0 start.

UP NEXT

Villanova visits Butler on Wednesday.

Creighton visits St. John's on Wednesday.

---

More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
J. Hart
M. Watson Jr.
30.9 Min. Per Game 30.9
13.5 Pts. Per Game 13.5
9.1 Ast. Per Game 9.1
2.5 Reb. Per Game 2.5
56.3 Field Goal % 48.3
40.6 Three Point % 47.6
81.7 Free Throw % 68.9
  Defensive rebound by Mikal Bridges 16.0
  Defensive rebound by Mikal Bridges 16.0
  Marcus Foster missed 3-pt. jump shot 18.0
+ 1 Kris Jenkins made 2nd of 2 free throws 22.0
+ 1 Kris Jenkins made 1st of 2 free throws 22.0
  Personal foul on Cole Huff 22.0
  Defensive rebound by Kris Jenkins 23.0
  Marcus Foster missed 2nd of 2 free throws 23.0
+ 1 Marcus Foster made 1st of 2 free throws 23.0
  Shooting foul on Josh Hart 23.0
+ 1 Josh Hart made 2nd of 2 free throws 28.0
Team Stats
Points 80 70
Field Goals 29-57 (50.9%) 29-59 (49.2%)
3-Pointers 10-27 (37.0%) 6-24 (25.0%)
Free Throws 12-13 (92.3%) 6-8 (75.0%)
Total Rebounds 37 22
Offensive 10 2
Defensive 24 17
Team 3 3
Assists 11 15
Steals 6 6
Blocks 2 4
Turnovers 15 11
Fouls 15 14
Technicals 0 0
27 PTS, 4 REB, 5 AST
22 PTS, 1 REB, 1 AST
12T
away team logo 1 Villanova 14-0 423880
home team logo 10 Creighton 13-1 412970
Team Stats
away team logo 1 Villanova 14-0 86.6 PPG 38.5 RPG 16.4 APG
home team logo 10 Creighton 13-1 83.5 PPG 39.1 RPG 17.8 APG
Key Players
1
J. Brunson G 18.9 PPG 3.1 RPG 4.6 APG 52.1 FG%
0
M. Foster G 19.8 PPG 3.9 RPG 2.7 APG 48.3 FG%
Top Scorers
J. Brunson G 27 PTS 4 REB 5 AST
M. Foster G 22 PTS 1 REB 1 AST
50.9 FG% 49.2
37.0 3PT FG% 25.0
92.3 FT% 75.0
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
J. Brunson 35 27 4 5 1 0 3 2 10/14 5/7 2/2 1 3
K. Jenkins 34 21 2 1 0 1 0 0 6/14 4/12 5/5 0 2
J. Hart 34 18 10 3 3 0 6 4 7/11 1/3 3/4 3 7
M. Bridges 28 4 6 1 1 0 1 2 1/4 0/2 2/2 1 5
D. Reynolds 21 0 5 1 0 1 2 2 0/1 0/0 0/0 2 3
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
J. Brunson 35 27 4 5 1 0 3 2 10/14 5/7 2/2 1 3
K. Jenkins 34 21 2 1 0 1 0 0 6/14 4/12 5/5 0 2
J. Hart 34 18 10 3 3 0 6 4 7/11 1/3 3/4 3 7
M. Bridges 28 4 6 1 1 0 1 2 1/4 0/2 2/2 1 5
D. Reynolds 21 0 5 1 0 1 2 2 0/1 0/0 0/0 2 3
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
E. Paschall 23 8 4 0 0 0 1 3 4/7 0/2 0/0 0 4
D. DiVincenzo 25 2 3 0 1 0 2 2 1/6 0/1 0/0 3 0
P. Booth - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Delaney - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Grace - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Kennedy - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Leibig - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Painter - - - - - - - - - - - - -
O. Spellman - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 200 80 34 11 6 2 15 15 29/57 10/27 12/13 10 24
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
M. Foster 37 22 1 1 1 0 1 3 9/20 2/11 2/3 0 1
J. Patton 28 18 8 0 0 2 2 2 9/12 0/0 0/0 2 6
C. Huff 27 11 1 1 0 0 0 3 4/6 2/4 1/1 0 1
K. Thomas 32 7 0 2 5 0 3 0 3/8 0/4 1/2 0 0
M. Watson Jr. 31 6 2 9 0 0 3 5 2/7 0/2 2/2 0 2
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
M. Foster 37 22 1 1 1 0 1 3 9/20 2/11 2/3 0 1
J. Patton 28 18 8 0 0 2 2 2 9/12 0/0 0/0 2 6
C. Huff 27 11 1 1 0 0 0 3 4/6 2/4 1/1 0 1
K. Thomas 32 7 0 2 5 0 3 0 3/8 0/4 1/2 0 0
M. Watson Jr. 31 6 2 9 0 0 3 5 2/7 0/2 2/2 0 2
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB
I. Zierden 24 6 4 1 0 0 1 1 2/2 2/2 0/0 0 4
T. Hegner 17 0 2 1 0 1 0 0 0/4 0/1 0/0 0 2
M. Krampelj 4 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 1
T. Clement - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Z. Hanson - - - - - - - - - - - - -
R. Harrell - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Mintz - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Scurry - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Paras - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 200 70 19 15 6 4 11 14 29/59 6/24 6/8 2 17