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Villanova Wildcats vs. La Salle Explorers Preview

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The ‘Cats look to stay undefeated when they face La Salle at the Palestra.  

NCAA Basketball: La Salle at George Washington Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

After pummeling St. Joe's (PA) Saturday afternoon, the Villanova Wildcats return to action on Tuesday night against La Salle at the Palestra. This is the ‘Cats third consecutive Big 5 tilt, and their second game at the Palestra in one week.

The Explorers are currently 4-2, with wins against local opponents, Delaware, Drexel, Leigh, and Bucknell. Their two losses have came from Temple and Texas Southern. The ‘Cats have won 15 straight games in the Big 5 and look to keep that streak going against La Salle.

Here are three things to watch for:

La Salle’s Dynamic Duo

Last season, guard Jordan Price was one of the few bright spots for the Explorers. He played almost 38 minutes a game, and averaged 19.2 points a game, along with 5 rebounds. He has started off the 2016-17 season where he left off.

Currently, Price is averaging 18.5 points, 3.3 boards, and 2.3 assists. The other standout for La Salle so far this year has been redshirt junior BJ Johnson. Johnson sat out last season after transferring from Syracuse, and is leading the Explorers in scoring with 18.7 points while shooting 47% from beyond the arc.

The Philadelphia native is also grabbing 5.7 rebounds a game. The pair of Price and Johnson are the only Explorers averaging over 30 minutes a game for La Salle.

Will Booth be back?

Junior guard Phil Booth has missed the Wildcats last five games due to knee inflammation. Early last week, Booth was listed as probable for the La Salle game. In his press conference after the St. Joe’s game, Jay Wright said Booth is day to day. Getting Booth back tomorrow would expand the rotation back to eight players and allow him to get a game in before the Notre Dame game.

In Booth’s absence, Donte DiVincenzo has really stepped up. Through eight games, DiVincenzo is averaging 8.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, and shooting 43.8 % from three point territory.

Triple-Double’s

Also in Booth’s absence, Josh Hart has showed that he can do whatever is needed for his team to win. In consecutive games, Hart set a career high for assists in a game. First, he dished out 9 against Penn, and then 10 against St. Joe’s, culminating in a triple-double.

Hart might not have another triple-double, especially if Booth is back, but it’s another part of his game the opposition has to be aware of.