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No. 1 Villanova faces tough Seton Hall squad

PHILADELPHIA -- Top-ranked Villanova will battle a formidable Big East opponent in Seton Hall Sunday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

Since the new conference was put together, the Pirates and Butler have three wins apiece over the Wildcats, tied for the most of any school.

In Thursday's 20-point win over Creighton, Villanova tied a program mark by draining 19 shots from beyond the 3-point arc. The task for the Wildcats (21-1, 8-1 Big East) will be difficult once again against Seton Hall (17-5, 6-3).

Villanova can't expect to hit 19 shots each game from 3-point territory.

"Ten straight was not the plan," Villanova coach Jay Wright said of the hot start against the Bluejays. "I'm not against but I would rather not start a game that way. We have good shooters, we want our guys to shoot and I don't think they took bad shots, but we do have to mix it up."

Without guard Phil Booth -- out with a fractured bone in his right hand -- the Wildcats received a major boost from freshmen Collin Gillespie (eight points) and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (six points, six rebounds).

"Against a team like Creighton you need more perimeter guys, so his play tonight was going to be really important going into the game," Wright said of Gillespie. "And I thought when he came in the first half, I thought he sparked us. They are intelligent offensively as they get the mismatches that they want, and I thought he defended his man really well. That really inspired our guys."

Cosby-Roundtree was a spark on both ends of the court and the Wildcats will need his energy without Booth.

"He got a big offensive rebound early in the game when the score was tight, and it got us an extra possession," Wright said. "Defensively, he has an ability to guard the perimeter and it's becoming an asset for us. He gets better every game and I'm proud of how he is playing."

Forward Mikal Bridges needs 24 points to reach 1,000 in his career on the Main Line.

Villanova captured all three meetings against Seton Hall last season, and this will be the Pirates' first game ever at the Wells Fargo Center.

In Seton Hall's last game, Khadeen Carrington scored 23 points and added seven assists in a 73-57 win over visiting Providence. Last week center Angel Delgado became the Big East's all-time leading rebounder in a victory at DePaul. Delgado then posted a double-double of 13 points and 14 rebounds against the Friars.

Seton Hall will be playing the No. 1-ranked team for the 15th time in school history. The Pirates are 0-14 all-time.

But the Pirates have won nine of their last 15 games against nationally ranked opponents with a 3-1 record this season.

"A lot of people think, 'Oh, we're going to Villanova, it's a big thing,' " Delgado told "It's always going to be a battle with us."

"They know us, we know them," Carrington added. "I've been playing against them for four years, and most of those guys have been there."

The Pirates' 6-3 conference record is their best nine-game start since 2006 and only the sixth time in program history they have opened 6-3.

Updated February 3, 2018

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