’Cats claw back
Nova rebounds to top Creighton
OMAHA, Neb. — Villanova called on Phil Booth again. As usual, he delivered.
Booth scored 19 of his 28 points after halftime to ignite the Wildcats’ surge as they came from behind to beat Creighton, 90-78, on Sunday.
“He’s got an incredible humility about him where when you need him, he’s there,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “If you don’t need him, he’s doing all the little things and he’s not complaining. It’s what makes him a great leader and great player.”
Booth made all four of his 3-pointers in the second half and scored eight straight points early in a 26-6 spurt that turned Villanova’s 4738 deficit into a 64-53 lead with 9½ minutes left. The Bluejays had two scoring droughts of more than 4 minutes as Villanova (13-4, 4-0 Big East) pulled away.
The defending champion Wildcats came back from sizable deficits for the third time in four games. They trailed by 13 before beating No. 24 St. John’s on Tuesday and by 14 in a victory over DePaul on Jan. 2. Booth hit the go-ahead 3pointer late and scored 23 points against St. John’s. The fifth-year senior said his work is a reflection of the team.
“It’s how resilient we are, how mentally tough we are from being down a lot throughout the season,” Booth said. “It’s learning how to stay calm and doing what we do to fight back and stay aggressive no matter what happens.”
XAVIER 70, BUTLER 69
Things weren’t looking good for Xavier at the last media timeout, with the Musketeers trailing by 10 points and struggling to make shots. Coach Travis Steele reminded the Musketeers that they were capable of an improbable rally.
Paul Scruggs scored 23 points while leading another big comeback, and Naji Marshall made a free throw with 3.2 seconds left, sending the Musketeers to a victory over Butler on Sunday.
Down by 10 points with 4 minutes left, the Musketeers (11-7, 3-2 Big East) went on a closing 16-5 spurt that featured Scruggs’ fifth 3-pointer, a career high. Scruggs moved to the point guard spot with Quentin Goodin injured and had a team-high eight rebounds with six assists in 40 minutes.
Nova’s Eric Paschall (4) drives on Creighton’s Ty-Shon Alexander.