The Holy War, traditionally a yearly beatdown of St. Joe's at the hands of Villanova ('Nova leads the all-time series 43-25), seems to be trending in another direction lately between the two bitter rivals. Much to the dismay of 'Nova Nation, losing to St. Joe's has transitioned from being a possibility to a reality. On Tuesday night, Villanova will try to even up it's Big 5 record for the year and avenge last year's blowout loss.
St. Joseph's (PA) will come in sporting a 5-2 record, with their losses coming against Florida State and then #11 Creighton. The Hawks scored a nice upset earlier this year against then #20 Notre Dame in overtime as well, so they're building nicely off of last season.
St. Joseph's is getting it done with a 6-man rotation, all averaging over 30 minutes per game while nobody else on the roster is even averaging 10 minutes per game.
Backcourt mates Carl Jones and Langston Galloway lead the team in scoring this season at 15.4 and 13.0 ppg respectively. Local product C.J. Aiken is averaging 11.1 ppg and almost 3 blocks per game for the third straight season. He gave 'Nova fits last year and will be a challenge again.
Forwards Ronald Roberts and Halil Kanacevic, as well as guard Chris Wilson, make up the rest of the primary Hawks rotation. Roberts is averaging a near double-double while Kanacevic has shown a good rebounding prowess and an ability to shoot it from the outside (38.5% on the year).
Though St. Joe's isn't a threat from deep team-wide, Jones is shooting over 44% so far from the outside, so keeping an eye on him will be paramount if the 'Cats hope to avoid another humiliating defeat.
In the victory over Penn, Jay Wright seemed to spread out minutes a little more evenly, with only Darrun Hilliard eclipsing the 30-minute mark. Despite yet again recording more turnovers than assists, the scoring distrubtion and offensive strategy seemed more composed, with Achraf Yacoubou and Maurice Sutton taking advantage of the minutes and helping to secure the victory against the Quakers.
Hopefully, it will be more of the same against the Hawks. Here's what 'Nova needs to do to win.
Assist-Turnover ratio - This will be a mainstay for the rest of the season as it has shown to be a necessity to secure any chance of victory.
Mo' Ash, Mo' Fun - Ya'll begged for it after the Temple debacle, and Jay Wright appeared to hear you by giving Ash Yacoubou 25 minutes off the bench. He rewarded his coach's faith by putting up a career-high 13 points and 6 rebounds in easily the best game of his career. His superior defense should land him a job shadowing Carl Jones for most of the night.
Battle of the Bigs - Mouphtaou Yarou, Daniel Ochefu, Maurice Sutton and JayVaughn Pinkston should have their hands full Tuesday night as Aiken, Kanacevic and Roberts are a very good trio with a good mix of skills. Winning the rebounding battle against these guys is not going to be easy, and scoring inside will be just as difficult. Whichever group outperforms the other will likely decide the game.
The game will tip off at 7 pm ET and will air on ESPNU.