Although the standings have moved a little bit during the weekly poll, one thing has remained constant. Villanova is the class of the Big 5
. #5 Penn Quakers (2-6) (0-2 Big 5)
Penn was led by Miles Jackson Cartwright with 17 points and 3 rebounds vs Villanova at the Pavillion. The Quakers were hoping to catch Nova off guard after returning from the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship but that was not the case. Villanova secured a 77-54 victory. Penn lost to Wagner 75-69 at thePalestra. Penn committed 23 turnovers which was a main contributor to the loss.
Upcoming games include a trip to Marist on December 22nd. Penn will continue to struggle unless they can change the their turnover issue.
#4 St. Joseph's Hawks (4-4) (0-2 Big 5)
St. Joe's was one of two Big 5 teams who played two Big 5 opponents this week. St.Joe's came out on the losing end both times.The Hawks lost to Temple, 77-69 at the Liacouras Center. Front court players Halil Kanacevic and Ronald Roberts are usually a big presence vs Temple, but both were non factors in the loss. St. Joe's and the fans on Hawk Hill were waiting for Villanova to come to Hagan Arena and wanted to knock the Wildcats off the undefeated perch. The first half was a game of spurts. Both Villanova and St. Joe's went on their runs and scored points in bunches and madesome defensive stops.The halftime score was 39-35, Villanova. Villanova scored 59 second half points in the 98-68 victory. Langston Galloway lead the Hawks with 18 points. One bright spot for St. Joe's fans was that freshman Deandre' Bembry added 17 points before fouling out.
St Joe's hosts Drexel on December 18th and travels to Loyola (MD)on December 21. Drexel should come out with a win, but look for the Hawks to stay .500 and beat Loyola(MD)
#3 LaSalle Explorers (5-4) (0-0 Big 5)
LaSalle secured two wins this week. Coach John Giannini started with a big line up and brought Tyrone Garland off the bench and the move worked. Garland lead all scorers with 17 points including 13 in the second half as LaSalle beat Hartford 75-62. LaSalle then faced Stony Brook at Madison Square Garden. Jerell Wright scored 16 of his game high 21 points in the second half as LaSalle erased a 12 point deficit to secure a 65-57 win.
Upcoming games for the Explorers include December 15th at Villanova. December 19th at Wagner and Decmeber 22nd at Miami (FL). If LaSalle wants serious consideration come tournament time, they will need to beat either Villanova or Miami for a non conference win. I think LaSalle can get two wins here, vs Wagner and Miami(FL).
#2 Temple Owls (4-4) (2-0 Big 5)
Temple outlasted St. Joe's 77-69 at home. For 38 minutes, there were 17 lead changes and no lead was larger than five. The game came down to rebounding and free throws. With 28 seconds left, Anthony Lee was on the charity stripe. While all his teammates were in their own halfcourt for defensive purposes, Lee grabbed his own rebound off the missed free throw and sank two more free throws to secure the win. Four Owls were in double figures in the win. Temple then hosted Texas at Wells Fargo center. Temple lost 81-80 in OT. The stand out statistic from this game is Temple shot 15 of 31 from the free throw line.
Temple hosts Texas Southern on ecember 18 and travels to LIU Brooklyn on December 21. Look for two more Owls victories.
#1 Villanova Wildcats (9-0) (2-0 Big 5)
The Wildcats were the other Big 5 team with only Big 5 opponents this week. However, their results were two victories to stay undefeated. Villanova exploded to a strong start versus Penn but cold shooting and turnovers defined an ugly second half for the Cats but they were able to hold off Penn, 77-54 at at Pavillion. Darrin Hilliard led the Wildcats with 19 points and 4 rebounds. Hilliard was 4 of 6 from three point range. Villanova traveled to Hawk Hill for the Holy War. The teams battled in the first half and Nova went on a 16-5 run to take a 39-35 halftime lead. Villanova opened the second half on a 20-5 run and erupted for 59 second half points, blowing out St. Joe's 98-68. JayVaugh Pinkston lead Villanova with 27 points and 8 rebounds and James Bell added 25 points and 14 boards.
Villanova will host LaSalle on December 15, and Rider on December 21. The Cats then travel to the Carrier Dome to face #2 Syracuse on December 28. I don't know about any of you but I am thinking Road Trip! Enjoy the games.