Kyle Neptune will coach his first Big East Conference game when Villanova battles visiting St. John’s on Wednesday evening.
Villanova (6-5, 0-0) is the last Big East team to begin league play this season, and after a bumpy start to the Neptune era, the Wildcats enter their conference opener on a four-game winning streak.
They have beaten Oklahoma and Boston College as well as Philadelphia Big Five foes Penn and Saint Joseph’s during their run.
Brandon Slater scored 19 points and Eric Dixon had 16 points and 12 rebounds on Saturday when Villanova rallied to beat Saint Joseph’s 71-64.
Chris Arcidiacono scored 11 of his season-high 14 points in the second half. He went 3 for 3 from the beyond the arc, the second shot of which tied the game at 44 after the Wildcats had trailed by six with about 17 minutes left.
Neptune made the senior guard a starter this season after three years off the bench for Jay Wright.
“When we went through our process throughout the summer, thought, who were (going) to be the best five guys to set the tone to play Villanova basketball?” Neptune said of Arcidiacono. “He was one of those five guys, and that’s who we went with.”
St. John’s (11-1, 1-0) beat Florida State on a neutral court in Florida 93-79 on Saturday. Center Joel Soriano posted his Division I-leading 10th double-double of the season with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
The Red Storm also have wins over Nebraska, Syracuse and DePaul, and their only loss came to then-No. 23 Iowa State by 11 points on the road. St. John’s had to follow that loss with its Big East opener against DePaul, and coach Mike Anderson was pleased with how his team responded in an 86-67 victory.
“Defensively, that’s probably the most consistently (we’ve played),” Anderson told reporters after that win. “We played the game the right way, and the game rewarded us with the win.”
Villanova leads the historic Big East series 64-63. The Wildcats have won four straight, including three last season; they swept the regular-season set before beating St. John’s 66-65 in the Big East tournament quarterfinals.
–Field Level Media