Nov. 21, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - A prelude to Saturday's "Battle of the Blue" football game takes place on Friday night as Villanova (3-0 overall, 0-0 BIG EAST) and the University of Delaware square off on the basketball court at the Pavilion. The Wildcats' and Blue Hens' football units will then meet on the gridiron on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. at PPL Park.
The hardwood version of this series takes place at 7:00 p.m. Friday. The contest will be broadcast nationally on Fox Sports 1 with Scott Graham and Ron Thompson on the call. Ryan Fannon and Whitey Rigsby describe the action via CBS Sports Radio 610 in the Philadelphia region and on Sirius 85 and XM 85.
Villanova has won its last two games by a combined 65 points over Mount St. Mary's and Towson. But Wildcats head coach Jay Wright emphasized before practice Thursday that this battle offers new challenges.
"They have a well-balanced team," stated Wright. "This could be the toughest group of guards we have played. We haven't played a guard like (Jarvis) Threatt yet."
The Blue Hens have posted consecutive victories over Hampton and Army after opening the campaign with a pair of losses. Junior guard Threatt sets the scoring pace at 17.0 ppg while senior guard Davon Usher adds 16.3 ppg and 8.5 rpg. Delaware has won six of its last eight away from Newark dating back to 2012-13 and averages 85.2 ppg.
The Wildcats average 81.0 ppg but some of the credit for that firepower belongs to a defense that has limited its foes to 54.0 ppg. VU forced 24 turnovers in Sunday's 78-44 victory over Towson - like Delaware, a program that holds membership in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Senior James Bell (18.7 ppg) and redshirt junior JayVaughn Pinkston (18.3) ppg have carried much of the scoring load early in 2013-14 for Villanova. Bell has been particularly impressive and Wright believes the credit belongs to the native of Orlando, Fla.
"He's such a great leader - I'm glad that's paying off for him in scoring," Wright states. "I think he'd be just as happy if he was playing this well and wasn't scoring. But he's doing so many little things well other than scoring. "It's nice to see a guy who has worked hard over four years to learn the culture of our basketball program and has embraced the culture of our university, be successful."
These two teams met last season on Dec. 16, 2012. Villanova got the 75-65 win as JayVaughn Pinkston set the scoring pace with 19 points.
Next up for the Wildcats is a trip to Paradise Island in the Bahamas where the final rounds of the Battle 4 Atlantis will be staged. Villanova faces USC at 1:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day (AXS TV) and then faces either Kansas or Wake Forest in the next round on Friday. Other participants at the eight team event are Iowa, Tennessee, Xavier, and UTEP.