GAME NOTES: A pair of Philadelphia Big 5 rivals are set to meet as the Saint Joseph's Hawks venture to The Pavilion to take on the Villanova Wildcats.
The Hawks improved to 5-2 on Dec. 4 with a 67-55 victory over Coppin State that was also the team's first true road win of the season. Saint Joseph's most impressive win came over Notre Dame in an overtime thriller and its losses came to Florida State and Creighton. Coach Phil Martelli's squad is netting 67.6 points per game and holding the opposition to six ppg less so far.
After losing three in a row to fall back to .500, Jay Wright's Wildcats picked up their second win in three games by defeating Penn, 68-55, to improve to 5-4 for the season. Villanova lost its last two home games when it hosted Columbia (75-57) and Temple (76-61) but has shown recent improvement on the defensive end lately. The Wildcats are outscoring their opponents by just 0.5 ppg.
This will be the 70th meeting between these programs. Villanova holds a 44-25 all-time series lead, but the Hawks coasted to a 74-58 victory last season behind a 20-point performance by then sophomore guard Langston Galloway.
After going into halftime trailing by one point, Saint Joseph's delivered a stifling second half performance by holding Coppin State to 28.6 percent shooting from the field including a 2-of-13 mark from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Hawks drained 50 percent of their field goal attempts and added nine points at the charity stripe. Senior guard Carl Jones led the team with 15 points. Jones has started the past three games and is averaging 18.3 points as a starter. Center C.J. Aiken showed off his athleticism at Coppin State with 14 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks. Galloway, who is averaging 13 ppg, chipped in 14 points in the team's recent win.
The Wildcats played well versus the Quakers on both ends last time out. Villanova led 35-27 at halftime after holding Penn to just 23.5 percent shooting from the field. In the second half, the Wildcats outscored the Quakers 33-28 with the help of 14 points off Penn turnovers. Achraf Yacoubou scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds off the bench to provide a spark. Freshman guard Ryan Arcidiacono added 12 points, while Mouphtaou Yarou and JayVaughn Pinkston each scored 10. Arcidiacono is leading the team with 12.3 ppg, but he is shooting just 29 percent from 3-point range. Pinkston (11.3 ppg) and guard James Bell (10.8 ppg) are also scoring in double figures for Villanova.
The Hawks hold the upperhand as they invade Villanova's gym that has yet to provide a relevant homecourt advantage this season. The Wildcats have some talent on their squad in Pinkston and Arcidiacono, but their talent is young and inexperienced. Galloway, Jones, and Aiken will provide three different matchup problems for Villanova in this one.
Game Date and Time