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Feb 6, 2024 4:43 pm

Xavier, Villanova meet fresh off easy victories

Xavier Olivari

Two teams hoping to make a late-season push for an NCAA Tournament bid meet will Wednesday night at Cincinnati when Xavier hosts Villanova in a Big East showdown.

Xavier (12-10, 6-5) is coming off its second straight win, a 93-68 rout of DePaul at Chicago on Saturday night.

The Musketeers were powered by the most prolific scoring performance of the season in the Big East, as grad student Quincy Olivari had a career-high 43 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Olivari leads the Big East in scoring at an average of 19.1 points per game.

Olivari earned conference player-of-the-week honors as well as recognition as the Naismith Trophy player of the week nationally after he averaged 33 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.5 steals in wins over St. John’s and DePaul.

Making the night more special was the presence of Olivari’s father, Gerald, at Saturday’s game.

“My dad means the world to me. He’s supported me through everything,” Olivari said. “I’ve never scored 40 in my life. To do it at the highest level is a tremendous feeling. I just wanted to share the moment with him because he knows how much basketball means to me, how great I want to be, and where I want to be in this sport.”

Villanova (12-10, 5-6) won the first game between the two teams this season 66-65 at home Jan. 3, when Xavier’s Desmond Claude missed two chances to give the Musketeers the lead in the closing 14 seconds.

The Wildcats snapped a five-game skid Sunday, and avoided their longest losing streak in 31 years, when they beat Providence 68-50 at Philadelphia.

“I was really proud of the way our guys came out defensively,” Villanova coach Kyle Neptune said. “I thought we played extremely hard. We were really locked in. It was a great defensive effort. Because of our defensive effort, we ended up making some shots as well.”

Villanova held Providence to 4-of-24 shooting (16.7 percent) in the first half and led 26-16 at the break. The Wildcats increased their lead to 50-24 while cruising to the win. Villanova’s bench outscored the Providence reserves 28-0.

Eric Dixon leads Villanova in scoring at an average of 15.9 points per game and is second in rebounds at 6.4 per game.

–Field Level Media

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