Villanova will play the rest of its season without its star point guard. The school announced Thursday that senior Collin Gillespie tore the MCL in his left knee during Thursday night's 72-60 win over Creighton.
"We are all devastated for Collin," Villanova coach Jay Wright said in a statement. "He is the heart and soul of our program. We know we can't replace him. We all just want to step up and play so that we honor him. Collin is as mentally tough and resilient as any player we have had here. I know he will get through this and make it a positive for his career."
Gillespie tangled legs with Creighton's Damien Jefferson in the first half of No. 10 Villanova's home victory over the 14th-ranked Bluejays on Senior Night. He had to be helped off the floor and later returned to the sideline with his left knee in heavy bandaging.
Villanova stiffened offensively without Gillespie, going on an eight-minute drought in the second half before ultimately righting the ship and pulling away to win the Big East regular-season title for the seventh time in eight years. Villanova now has the most regular season championships in conference history with 11.
Gillespie was averaging 14.0 points, 4.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds. He's the team's primary option at point guard, someone with 87 starts to his name. His assist rate is 25.7%, far and away the highest on the team. There is no proven, clear backup to run the point for VU.
Wright said Wednesday night his team was "devastated at first" over Gillespie's injury, but their ability to gather themselves was a sign of how well they embrace a challenge.
"There's probably not been one player that's had such an impact on a team in a year as Collin does here," Wright said Wednesday night. "He's tough to replace. We're going to have to grow up real quick."
Villanova, projected as a No. 3 seed in Jerry Palm's latest Bracketology, has lost its last three road games. Its regular season finale is Saturday at Providence. Villanova will be the No. 1 seed in next week's Big East Tournament, with its quarterfinal game scheduled for Thursday.