By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Villanova Wildcats sit at 23-3 this season (11-2 in the Big East) and they are now ranked ninth in the country as they get ready to welcome St. John’s to the Center on Saturday afternoon.
The Wildcats are coming off three straight Big East road games, a stretch they wrapped up with an 82-79, double-overtime win at Providence on Tuesday.
“We had three games in six days,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright tells KYW Newsradio. “And to finish it with a double-overtime win, leaves our guys a little mentally fatigued, but home and able to rest and fired up to play the Johnnies.”
The Providence win continued an interesting trend for the Wildcats. They have followed each of their three losses this season (at Syracuse and Creighton twice) with road, conference, overtime (or double overtime) wins (at Butler, at Marquette and at Providence).
“I do think this team has great mental toughness,” Wright says. “And a resiliency that really comes from the players.”
As for the game with the 18-9 Red Storm (8-6 in the Big East), Wright says he expects a very difficult match-up.
“St. John’s is as hot as anybody in the country,” Wright says. “They’ve won nine of their last ten games, they’ve got a great player in D’Angelo Harrison.”
Harrison is a 6’4″ junior guard who averages 17.9 points a game. He had 22 in the first match-up with Villanova, a game the Wildcats won, in New York City, 74-67, on January 11th.
“That first game was like a bar fight,” Wright says. “We were just rolling around on the floor. It was ugly and physical and I don’t think either team had a real rhythm offensively yet.”
Wright expects a sharper game this time around.
“Both of us are playing much better right now and probably St. John’s has improved a lot more since that period of time than we have,” Wright says. “But I think we’re both in a great spot. So it will be a completely different game, and I think a great game, Saturday.”
Tip-off is set for 1:30pm on Saturday.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.