Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - A Big Five battle is on tap at Hagan Arena on Saturday as regional rivals Villanova and Saint Joseph's tangle in a non-conference battle.
With a 77-54 rout of Penn at home on Wednesday Villanova has already picked up a win against one of the Big Five. The victory was the eighth straight to start the season for the Wildcats, who grabbed the nation's attention with wins over No. 6 Kansas and No. 23 Iowa en route to the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament title.
Keeping up with rival Temple proved to be too much for the Hawks last time out. Saint Joseph's fell short in the 77-69 decision for its 11th loss in the last 13 meetings with the Owls. The setback dropped the Hawks to a pedestrian 4-3 on the campaign.
Villanova has 45 wins in 70 all-time meetings in this series, including victories in four of the last five matchups. The Hawks gave the Wildcats a run last year but fell short in a 65-61 decision.
Shooting well was not something Villanova enjoyed against Penn but defensive pressure made up the difference. The Wildcats only shot at a 34.6 percent clip from the field, but nailed 10 3-pointers and scored 26 points off of turnovers to run past the Quakers.
Strong defense is why the Wildcats have gotten off to their hot start. Villanova is netting just 43.8 percent from the floor, but are still managing to score 81.1 points per game. Stout efforts on defense and the boards have made up for the lack of shooting success with the Wildcats ranked 13th nationally in rebounds (43.1 pg), while holding foes to 37.9 percent shooting. James Bell (16.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and JayVaughn Pinkston (16.6 ppg, 5 rpg) are the go-to scorers. Darrun Hilliard (13.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, apg) is an all-around player, while Ryan Arcidiacono (9.0 ppg) is a gunner, who hasn't found his rhythm just yet at 22.9 percent from 3-point range.
Even though the Hawks won the rebounding battle against Temple (45-37) it didn't make a difference in the final score due to some weak shooting. The Hawks connected on just 38.5 percent of their field goal tries and hurt themselves with 15 turnovers.
At this point in the season the Hawks are performing well on the offensive end of the floor. Saint Joseph's is scoring 74 points per game and shooting a respectable 46.3 points per game. However, games have often been close for the Hawks, as their foes are netting 45.4 percent from the field. Langston Galloway (18.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg) scored 24 points in the loss to Temple as he continues to be the most productive offensive threat for the Hawks. Ronald Roberts (17.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg) is a sturdy player in the frontcourt. DeAndre Bembry (10.1 ppg) is the only other double-figure scorer for the Hawks, who lack a ton of depth.