Happy New Year Nova Nation!
Although the Cats lost their first game of the season, this college basketball season is going extremely well for Villanova basketball. We earlier cracked the Top 10 and currently sit at # 11 in the country. The new Big East kicked off conference play on New Year's Eve and each conference game was televised on the new TV partner Fox Sports 1.
I remember being a kid and watching a ton of college football on New Year's Day. I now see myself watching a ton of college basketball on New Year's Eve.
On to the latest poll.
#5 Penn Quakers (2-9)
Penn lost at Rider 89-88. Rider overcame a 7 point deficit late in the second half to secure the win. Penn missed three shots and had two turnovers in the last 2:55 of the second half. Julian Harrell scored 23 for the Quakers.
Penn is now officially struggling. Many of their losses came down to the final minutes. Penn just does not know how to close out games. This weeks results are a perfect example.
Penn hosts LaSalle Saturday at the Palestra.
#4 Temple Owls (5-6)
If you read my Big 5 preview, I noted that Temple was thin on the bench and an injury to a starter could sour the Owls season. Unfortunately, Daniel Dingle tore his meniscus in the Rutgers game.
Temple fell to Rutgers 71-66 in their conference opener in the new American Athletic Conference. Dalton Pepper and Quenton DeCosey accounted for most of Temple's points. DeCosey scored a game high 25 points and Pepper added 19 points, all in the second half. Look for more of this from Temple and opponents to key on these two players. For Temple to complete, they will need to get added scoring from someone.
Temple battles UCF on Saturday.
#3 LaSalle Explorers (6-6)
LaSalle's last game was the 71-58 loss at Miami.
The Explorers next game Big 5 opponent Penn at the Palestra this Saturday.
#2 St. Joseph's Hawks (8-4)
St. Joseph's handled Boston University, 73-67. Ronald Roberts and Chris Wilson scored 19 points each as St. Joe's overcame a 35-28 halftime deficit to lead the Hawks to victory. St. Joseph's was an outstanding 20 of 25 from the free throw line in the win.
Ronald Roberts was named Big 5 player of the week, averaging 16.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
The Hawks also defeated Binghamton, 71-44. St. Joe's came out surging, built a big first half lead and never looked back. Langston Galloway scored 20 points on 7 of 13 shooting.
The Hawks next face the University of Denver Saturday.
#1 in the Big 5/ #11 in the country Villanova Wildcats (12-1)
The Villanova Wildcats faced another Top 25 opponent when they traveled to the Carrier Dome and faced #2 Syracuse. Villanova started the game with 4 three pointers and raced to a 25-7 early lead. Syracuse climbed back to take a 34-30 halftime lead. The Cats trailed for much of the second half and closed the lead to 56-53 at the 7:02 mark but Syracuse hit 14 of 16 free throws to diffuse any comeback and seal a 78-62 win for the Orange.
Villanova got their conference play going with a 76-73 overtime win at Butler. JayVaughn Pinkston had a chance to win in regulation but missed a contested shot, however Pinkston make the clinching free throws in overtime to capture the win. Pinkston finished with 20 points for the Cats.
Villanova next battles Providence on Sunday.
Enjoy the games!