Villanova’s best start in school history will be severely tested over the next three days.
The No. 2 Wildcats try for their first 12-game win streak in 46 years on Saturday when they visit No. 7 Georgetown in a Big East rematch.
Villanova (20-1, 9-0) has won its first nine Big East games for the first time and has reached No. 2 in the rankings for the third time in school history. The Wildcats have not won 12 straight since a 13-game run during the 1963-64 season.
All of that will be tested in this matchup against Georgetown (16-5, 6-4) and Monday’s trip to face No. 6 West Virginia. The Wildcats haven’t played in a matchup of top 10 teams since February 2006.
“We know we can go on this road trip and be second or third or fourth in the Big East,” coach Jay Wright said. “We have a lot of ‘ats.’ We know what we have ahead of us.”
Villanova will enter with some confidence beyond its lengthy win streak after ending a five-game skid against Georgetown with an 82-77 victory at the Wachovia Center on Jan. 17. Scottie Reynolds scored 27 points and the Wildcats held the Hoyas to 39.3 percent shooting.
Hoyas guard Chris Wright, averaging 14.6 points, was held to six points and 1 for 7 shooting in 24 foul-plagued minutes against the Wildcats. Greg Monroe led Georgetown with 29 points and 16 rebounds.
“We thought we got a little fortunate,” Jay Wright said. “Chris Wright was in foul trouble most of the game. Monroe was uncontrollable for us.”
Monroe enters off back-to-back 21-point efforts with far different results for the Hoyas. Georgetown beat then-No. 8 Duke 89-77 last Saturday in front of a sellout crowd before Wednesday’s surprising 72-64 loss to surging South Florida.
The Hoyas blew a 13-point lead in the first half and denied they were looking ahead to Villanova.
“I don’t know exactly what happened,” Monroe said. “We definitely wasn’t looking backward and we definitely wasn’t looking forward. As a team, we have to be more focused to win games like this.”
Georgetown shot 36.0 percent in the second half and suffered its first loss in 11 games at the Verizon Center.
“You can’t dwell on good wins or bad losses in this league,” coach John Thompson III said. “Because you have to move on. There’s always a next opponent that’s very difficult and that’s the case with us.”
It’s unclear how much of a home-court advantage the Hoyas will have Saturday. Major snowfall is expected in the nation’s capital, and Georgetown has already announced that it will likely offer exchanges for ticketholders unable to attend.
In addition, Villanova is 8-1 all-time at the Verizon Center. The Wildcats won 95-86 over Maryland in the arena on Dec. 6.
Reynolds, who hails from nearby Herndon, Va., is very comfortable there, averaging 21.7 points in three career games.
“We know we’re going to play in a great environment down there,” Jay Wright said.
Since beating Georgetown last month, Villanova has won four straight by double digits. The Wildcats had four players in double figures in Tuesday’s 81-71 victory over Seton Hall, with Corey Stokes scoring all 11 of his points after halftime.