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Villanova, Butler bring matching 2-game skids into contest

Jan 7, 2023; Villanova, Pennsylvania, USA; Villanova Wildcats forward Eric Dixon (43) reacts against the Xavier Musketeers in the first half at William B. Finneran Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Villanova continues to muddle in unfamiliar territory, scuffling below .500 under first-year head coach Kyle Neptune.

Still trying to find its way with the Jay Wright era in the rearview mirror, Villanova (8-9, 2-4 Big East) will look to snap a two-game losing streak when it visits Butler in Indianapolis on Friday.

The Wildcats fell 75-65 to DePaul on Tuesday in Chicago to snap a 22-game win streak in the series dating to 2008.

Eric Dixon had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and freshman Cam Whitmore added 16 points, but it wasn’t enough.

“I thought we were resilient in the first half,” Neptune said. “We got some stops down the stretch in the first half. Unfortunately, in the second half they got it going. We just didn’t get enough stops in the second half.”

The short-handed Wildcats will continue to play without Justin Moore (Achilles) and Jordan Longino (left leg).

Butler, facing some struggles of its own, will also aim to avoid a third consecutive loss on Friday.

The Bulldogs (10-8, 2-5) committed 22 turnovers and lost 77-61 at St. John’s on Tuesday.

Chuck Harris led Butler with 17 points — the fifth time he has been the leading scorer this season — and Simas Lukosius added 15. Harris had three of Butler’s 12 steals in the game; Lukosius was responsible for five of the turnovers.

“You can’t take a night off in this league and not come to play, not come to compete,” Butler head coach Thad Matta said. “Those are things to correct.”

The Bulldogs trailed 39-29 at halftime, closed within seven early in the second half, yet never fully recovered.

All 10 Butler victories this season have followed the same trend. It’s 10-0 when leading at halftime and 0-8 when trailing after 20 minutes.

“We’ve got to get tougher,” Matta said.

Butler is 5-15 all-time against Villanova and 4-5 at home.

–Field Level Media