Dec. 13, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - After a week's pause, the No. 10/14 Villanova Wildcats are set to resume action this Sunday afternoon when they meet their third consecutive Philadelphia Big Five rival, La Salle (5-4 overall, 0-0 Big Five) at the Pavilion at 2:30 p.m.
The contest will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1 with John Sadak and Ron Thompson on the call. The Villanova/IMG radio broadcast can be heard in Philadelphia on 1210 WPHT as well as on Sirius and XM channel 91.
Prior to this pause in the schedule, the Wildcats (9-0 overall, 2-0 Big Five) had played five games in 10 days, including a visit to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis. The final day of the fall semester is Dec. 12 and exams begin on Saturday, Dec. 14.
On the basketball court the Wildcats have their attention focused on an Explorers unit that returns the bulk of the roster which brought La Salle three NCAA Tournament victories last March, advancing to the Sweet 16. Tyrone Garland (16.3 ppg) leads a squad that includes three more double digit scorers: forwards Jerrell Wright (12.4 ppg) and Steve Zack (10. 2 ppg, 9.3 rpg) and guard Sam Mills (7.2 ppg).
La Salle defeated Stony Brook last Saturday at New York's Madison Square Garden 65-57.
"We have great respect for La Salle," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "They are similar to us in a lot of ways."
In last year's meeting, the Explorers prevailed 77-74 in overtime at Tom Gola Arena. That snapped a 10-game Wildcat winning streak in the series that dated to 2002.
"When I watched the tape from last year, I was struck by how much better both teams became by the end of the season," noted Wright. "We were still figuring things out when we played - that was kind of a sloppy game for us and they were a big reason why. They were great. But I think we kept getting better and so did La Salle.
"We have to be ready to battle a tough, well-coached team."
Villanova pulled away from Saint Joseph's last Saturday night at Hagen Arena thanks to a 59-point explosion powered in large part by junior JayVaughn Pinkston (27 points and eight rebounds) and senior James Bell (25 points and 14 caroms). Pinkston was named Philadelphia Big Five Player of the Week for his efforts and also is on this week's BIG EAST Honor Roll.
"JayVaughn was so well-prepared for those games against Penn and Saint Joe's - he knew the scouting report inside and out and had his best defensive game on Saturday," stated Wright.
The Wildcats moved up to No. 10 in the Associated Press poll and No. 14 in the USA Today Coaches poll after last week's wins over Penn and Saint Joseph's. Sunday's game is the third of four City Series games on the schedule - the Wildcats will wrap up the Big Five slate on Feb. 1 at Temple.
Villanova will play once more before Christmas, hosting Rider on Saturday, Dec. 21 at 4:00 p.m. (Fox Sports 1) at the Pavilion. The Villanova Basketball Alumni will be honored at halftime of that game.
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