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28 December 2007

Villanova looks to extend Big 5 streak

posted by NovaFan09
12/28/2007 02:22:00 PM
On Saturday night, the 9-1 Wildcats hope to continue their streak of 13 consecutive Big Five wins and an undefeated Big Five record this season when they host La Salle at the Pavilion for a 7pm tipoff. The game will air live on ESPNU. This is the third Big Five game Villanova will play this season, with the others coming in wins against Penn (87-61) and against Temple (101-93) earlier this month. Interestingly, La Salle (4-6), is playing their first Big Five game of the season.

Last year, Villanova defeated the Explorers by a score of 64-51, adding to the all time record of 30-26 versus La Salle. While a 13 point win is not indicative of a struggling offense, Villanova failed to capitalize on the weak Explorer defense and missed many uncontested three-pointers. Defensively, Villanova allowed too many second chance points by La Salle, who offensively rebounded with ease, allowing them to stay uncomfortably close throughout the game.

I believe that the outcome of this game will be decided with the Cats' ability to rebound and defend the three. Last year, Casiem Drummond, Dante Cunningham, and Shane Clark combined for only 12 rebounds while playing significant minutes. The Explorers are led in rebounding by ex-Corey Fisher high school teammate Yves Mekongo Mbala, Paul Johnson, and Jerrell Williams, who all average over six rebounds per game. Throughout exam week, defensive improvement and rebounding was a top priority during team practices. The Wildcats demonstrated progress when they limited Colombia to 56 points. Recently, Cunningham has grabbed double digit rebounds in three of his last four games, after averaging 4.8 in his previous six contests, a trend I believe will continue to happen.

Most of La Salle's offense comes from its starting guards, senior Darnell Harris and sophomore Rodney Green. Harris, who averages 16.3 points and has converted 41 of 82 three-point shots, is a legitimate threat to the Wildcats. He nearly catapulted the Explorers, down 16 points to an underrated Big East team in DePaul, to an early season upset on December 22. Days earlier, the Explorers rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit and took the lead in the second half before losing to SEC contender Mississippi (10-0), 84-77.

Despite their 4-6 record, La Salle is not afraid to run with power conference opponents. Villanova must protect its lead and defend the three much better or else this game will turn out to be as tight as La Salle's past few contests. I expect Reggie Redding to defend Harris much the same way he shut down Bucknell's John Griffin during the second half of Nova's 70-64 sqeaker earlier this year so that La Salle will have to rely on their other scoring options.

Offense should not be a problem for the Cats, as they have been scoring in bunches recently. After early season trouble from the charity line, Nova has shot 80.3 percent (53-for-66) in their last three games. If Villanova can keep the pace of the game to their liking and allow their scramble defense to defend the three-pointer, Villanova should come out of this game with a 10-1 record, looking pretty strong for Big East Play.

Take part in the ongoing LetsGoNova.com prediction contest by taking a shot at forecasting the final score of the game in the comments section below. Winners will receive their names in bold text on this very Web site! Go Cats!

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At 12:44 AM, December 29, 2007, Blogger Matt said...

Villanova 76
La Salle 59

At 9:50 AM, December 29, 2007, Anonymous david said...

nova - 82
lasalle - 67

At 10:16 AM, December 29, 2007, Anonymous Gregg said...

Villanova 87
La Salle 70

At 10:30 AM, December 29, 2007, Blogger garretthill said...

Nova 92
Lasalle 66

At 12:20 PM, December 29, 2007, Blogger Pete said...

Villanova 93
La Salle 78

At 12:30 PM, December 29, 2007, Anonymous Snig Li said...

La Salle- 65

At 1:43 PM, December 29, 2007, Anonymous emily said...

Villanova 83
La Salle 64

At 3:00 PM, December 29, 2007, Anonymous Shawny MacATTACK! said...

nova 79
la salle 66

At 3:48 PM, December 29, 2007, Anonymous shawnymacattack said...


At 3:51 PM, December 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

errr i mean https://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/6847


At 8:07 PM, December 29, 2007, Anonymous Michael said...

This is going to be such a blowout i'm not even going to post a score!

Fisher's got NBA potentiall


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