Villanova (4-4) at Penn (2-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 8, 8 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Palestra (8,722) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: NBCSN. Home Record: Villanova 2-2, Penn 2-1. Away Record: Villanova 1-1, Penn 0-2. Neutral Record: Villanova 1-1, Penn 0-3. Conference Record: Villanova 0-0, Penn 0-0. Series Record: Villanova leads, 41-18.
GAME NOTES: The Villanova Wildcats take on another local rival tonight as they are set to tangle with the Penn Quakers at The Palestra.
Villanova is coming off Wednesday night's 76-61 setback to Temple, the team's fourth loss in its last five outings to fall to .500 on the season. The Wildcats previously played fellow Philadelphia school La Salle last Sunday and will follow up tonight's contest with home games against Saint Joseph's and Delaware in the week ahead.
Penn has also endured some struggles and enters this tilt with only two wins in eight games on the season. The Quakers have dropped six of their last seven, including a 58-47 setback at Penn State last Saturday. Following this contest, the Quakers will be idle until Dec. 21 when they begin a stretch that will have them on the road for eight of their next nine games.
The Wildcats have won each of the last nine meetings versus their city rivals. 'Nova topped Penn last year at the Pavilion, 73-65, to extend its lead in the all-time series to 41-18.
Villanova has struggled on the offensive end lately, averaging only 61.8 points over the last five games. Earlier this week, Temple opened the second half with an 18-2 spurt as the Wildcats missed their first 10 field goal attempts of the frame. They were also unable to overcome 20 turnovers for the game. James Bell (11.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg) led the way with 15 points in the loss, while Tony Chennault scored 10 in 13 minutes off the bench. Leading scorer Ryan Arcidiacono finished with nine points as he shot just 2-of-7 from the floor and committed three turnovers. Without a true go-to scoring threat, the Wildcats have often struggled to adapt when Arcidiacono or one of their other primary options has an off day. Second-leading scorer JayVaughn Pinkston (11.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg) also had a quiet night against Temple, finishing with five points on 1-of-4 shooting.
Penn coach Jerome Allen has spent the early part of the season experimenting with different lineup combinations, and he'll likely continue tinkering until his team is able to string together a few wins. The Quakers shot just 36 percent from the floor in last weekend's loss to Penn State, and that included a 5-of-22 effort (.227) from the perimeter. They were also outscored at the free-throw line, 17-6. Freshman Tony Hicks was the only player in double figures, finishing with 10 points off the bench. In fact, Penn's bench has outscored the starters over the last three games (92-86). On the season, Fran Dougherty paces the squad with 17.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per tilt, while fellow junior Miles Cartwright is also averaging double figures, with 14.1 ppg. However, that duo combined for only 11 points on 5-of-20 shooting against PSU.
Both of these teams have some work to do before getting into their respective conference schedules. Scoring could be at a premium in this matchup, but look for Villanova to come out hungry after Wednesday's rough outing against Temple.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Villanova 67, Penn 61
12/08 10:34:09 ET