After a weekend trip to the Charleston Classic, the No. 2 Wildcats bring more than a tournament title back with them to Villanova. On Wednesday, the defending national champions will host College of Charleston in the Wildcats’ first home game in 12 days.
Villanova enters the game with a 5-0 record, while College of Charleston sits a 3-2. The Cougars go into Wednesday’s tilt on a two-game skid with those two losses (UCF and Wake Forest) against the two teams that the Wildcats most recently defeated. Here are three key things to keep an eye on as Villanova looks to maintain its perfect start.
Is Phil Booth back and what is his role?
While the Charleston Classic was largely a positive experience for Villanova, the team was without starting guard Phil Booth for two games due to knee tendonitis. The Wildcats didn’t really miss a beat without Booth, as Mikal Bridges stepped into the starting lineup and averaged 14.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game in Booth’s absence. Booth will have his knee checked out again when the team returns home, but it is fair to wonder if he’s lost his starting job either way. Even when healthy, Booth has gotten off to a tough start this season (26.3 percent from the field), while Bridges continues to thrive offensively and defensively.
Can Kris Jenkins get into a groove?
While Villanova is 5-0 this season, it hasn’t been the predicted start for Kris Jenkins. The senior wing is averaging 12.6 ppg and is shooting 39.2 percent from the field. Both numbers are down from his junior year and significantly below the production he gave Villanova in the second half of last season. Foul trouble has plagued Jenkins early, as he’s played over 30 minutes in just two of five games. However, most great shooters are streaky, and it will likely take Jenkins just one hot night to get back in his grove.
Will lighter Pavilion crowd have any affect?
With the students gone for Thanksgiving break, Wednesday’s game will likely be among the least raucous environments of any Villanova home game all season. College of Charleston is not a pushover opponent, and the Wildcats will need to make sure they supply their own early energy and don’t come out flat early. Couple the environment with the fact that the holiday weekend and some extra time off looms afterwards, and Wednesday’s game has the look of a trap game. It will be key for Villanova to come out strong and put the Cougars away early.