Surging Villanova hoping No. 1 UConn is vulnerable

On Monday, UConn earned its first unanimous No. 1 ranking in program history. A day later, the Huskies sustained their first loss in two months.Looking to avoid consecutive defeats for the first time in more than a year, the Huskies host ascending Villanova on Saturday night in Storrs, Conn.With two weeks to go, the Huskies (24-3, 14-2 Big East) hold a 2-1/2 game lead over Marquette in the race for the league’s regular-season title and top seed at the conference tournament. The Huskies are No. 1 for the sixth straight week and had extended their winning streak to 14 games with a 28-point dismantling of Marquette a week ago in Hartford.Then came the nightmare in Omaha when the Huskies took an 85-66 loss at No. 15 Creighton, which is three games back of the top spot. In its first loss since a 75-60 setback at Seton Hall on Dec. 20, UConn shot 44.1 percent and missed 13 of 16 3-point tries.The shaky offensive showing occurred after the Huskies shot 54.1 percent in winning their previous three games by at least 25 points.”We’ve had a great run, but it just kind of felt like today we ran into them playing great and us not playing as well as we need to here in Omaha,” Huskies coach Dan Hurley said. “We were definitely stunned. We knew this was a dangerous game. One of the better teams in the country. But we didn’t expect this to happen.”Tristen Newton scored 27 points for his second-highest total of the season. Stephon Castle, Alex Karaban and Cam Spencer were a combined 8 of 24 from the field.Newton scored 25, Spencer had 14 points and Karaban added 10 in a 66-65 win against Villanova in Philadelphia in the first meeting on Jan. 20.That was part of a season-high five-game losing streak for the Wildcats (15-11, 8-7) that included three setbacks by single digits.

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