Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Big 5 rivals square off on Wednesday night, as the 10th-ranked Villanova Wildcats tangle with the La Salle Explorers at Tom Gola Arena.
Villanova has taken out all comers here in the early stages of the 2014-15 season, including a pair of ranked foes in VCU and Michigan. Since winning the Legends Classic in Brooklyn with a 60-55 decision over the Wolverines, the team routed regional rival Delaware at home on Sunday, 78-47.
La Salle has won twice as many games as it has lost to this point in the campaign, but the team has dropped two in a row after starting out 4-0. The Explorers stumbled in their first attempt to upset a ranked foe, falling to Virginia in a 64-56 final, before suffering a double-digit setback to Vanderbilt last Saturday, 68-55, with both games being a part of the Barclays Center Classic, also in Brooklyn.
Villanova owns a 35-27 lead in the all-time series with La Salle, which includes a 73-52 victory last year.
Villanova is getting it done at both ends of the court this season, as the team in generating 74.2 ppg while allowing only 55.0 ppg. The Wildcats prefer a balanced attack rather than rely on one or two star performers, and they currently boast seven players who average at least 7.8 ppg. Dylan Ennis (12.5 ppg) and Kris Jenkins (10.0 ppg) are the only two double-digit scorers for VU, which is holding the opposition to a mere 27.1 percent accuracy on 3-point attempts, while also laying claim to favorable margins in both rebounding (+4.7) and turnovers (+6.8).
Jenkins scored 13 points to lead five players in double figures, as Villanova kept Delaware winless on the season over the weekend. The Wildcats made good on 48.3 percent of their total shots, knocking down 13-of-32 3-point attempts, while logging a 41-33 rebounding advantage and taking advantage of 17 UD turnovers. The Blue Hens were held to 31 percent field goal efficiency, which included misses on 18 of their 25 long-range launches.
Jerrell Wright scored 19 points and Steve Zack added 11 more, but those efforts weren't good enough as La Salle lost to Vanderbilt the last time out. The Explorers shot 43.1 percent from the field, but failed to convert 10 of their 14 3-point tries. Their defensive effort yielded a 54.2 percent success rate to the Commodores on their field goal attempts. Vandy committed only seven turnovers in the game,
Despite shooting just 36.9 percent from the floor, Jordan Price paces the Explorers with 17.7 ppg. Wright (11.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg) is the only other double- digit scorer for a squad that is netting an even 60 ppg even though it's connecting on only 38.1 percent of its total shots, which includes a woeful 25.3 percent showing from beyond the arc. Zack (8.2 rpg) spearheads the club's rebounding effort, which trails the opposition on average by 4.3 rpg. Fortunately the team's defensive prowess results in the enemy putting up only 58.7 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of .382 overall and .278 from distance.