Villanova (3-2) at La Salle (2-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, November 25, 1 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Tom Gola Arena (4,000) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Villanova 2-1, La Salle 1-1. Away Record: Villanova 0-0, La Salle 0-1. Neutral Record: Villanova 1-1, La Salle 0-0. Conference Record: Villanova 0-0, La Salle 0-0. Series Record: Villanova leads, 35-26.
GAME NOTES: The Villanova Wildcats will try to bounce back as they head across the city for a Philadelphia Big 5 battle with the La Salle Explorers at Tom Gola Arena.
The Wildcats started out the season with three straight wins over District of Columbia (78-58), Marshall (80-68) and Purdue (89-81 OT) which gave the impression they were ready to get rid of the disappointment that came with last season's 13-19 finish. Coach Jay Wright's team took a step backwards after its strong start though, as it was dealt a double-digit loss by Alabama (77-55) at Madison Square Garden before Columbia defeated it by 18 points at the Pavilion.
The Explorers bounced back from a loss to Central Connecticut State their last time out with a 13-point win over Hartford on the road. The victory improved La Salle's record to 2-1 as it also notched a 73-66 win over Delaware in its season opener. Although it lost its last time at Tom Gola, La Salle has still won 17 of its last 21 games at home. Coach John Giannini is now in his ninth season as the team's head coach. He achieved his first 20-win season in his eighth year and also led the Explorers to the NIT.
These schools will be meeting for the 62nd time on Sunday. Villanova holds a 35-26 edge in the all-time series, which has been very close in recent years. The last two contests in this series have been decided by a total of 10 points, with last season�s bout in the Pavilion featuring a late Wildcat rally to force overtime. Villanova is 3-0 all-time at Tom Gola Arena after escaping with an 84-81 win in 2010.
Villanova did not look like it was a Big East program taking on an Ivy League school its last time out as Columbia won the rebounding battle, used defensive pressure to register 12 steals, and held it to just 37.3 percent shooting from the floor, including a poor 3-of-17 clip from three-point range. Although junior swingman James Bell played well to finish with 13 points and six rebounds, Mouphtaou Yarou, Darrun Hilliard, and Ryan Arcidiacono combined to go just 7-of-28 from the field and 2-of-13 from distance. JayVaughn Pinkston showed promise down the stretch last season with three 20+-point performances, but he attempted just two field goals versus Columbia. Arcidiacono, who is starting at point guard as a freshman, can be deadly when his shot is on as he showed with 28 points versus Purdue. However, his current slump is a big reason for the Wildcats' recent woes.
The Explorers were held to a season-low 64 points in their win over Hartford, but they also made a season high 47.6 percent of their field goal attempts in the contest. This was partially due to a lower total field goal attempts (42) which was a result of 19 turnovers. La Salle attempted over 60 field goals and had 18 total turnovers in its first two games. Tyreek Duren, Jerrell Wright, and Ramon Galloway scored 15, 14, and 13 points, respectively, in the team's win over Hartford. Their performances were on par with their averages. Wright is pacing the team with 15.3 points and 8.3 boards per contest, while Duren is the second leading scorer with 13 ppg. Galloway is netting 11.7 ppg, but he has not got into a rhythm on the offensive end yet. The senior point guard scored 14.1 points and dished out 3.5 assists per game last season, while leading the charge towards the postseason.
Rivalry games often yield results that differ from the norm. It is hard to see Galloway's struggles continue for much longer as he proved he is a big-time player last season. While Arcidiacono still needs to develop more consistency on the offensive end, it will not be long before Wright starts running the offense through Yarou and Pinkston.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: La Salle 74, Villanova 72
11/25 10:33:58 ET