The No. 14 Villanova Wildcats face their first serious road challenge when they take on St. Joseph's (PA) on Saturday night at the Hagan Arena.
Villanova (8-0), is newly ranked in the Associated Press Top-25 Poll at the No. 14 spot and coming off a sloppy win against Big 5 foe, Penn, where they won 77-54, and are riding an eight-game winning streak. The Hawks (4-3) recently dropped a decision to Big 5 rival Temple University, 77-69, and come into the contest on a one-game losing streak.
The Wildcats hold a 44-25 overall record against the Hawks and have won eight of the last 12 contests during the Jay Wright era.
'Nova has to play with a different level of intensity if they are trying to knock off strong Hawks squad that has wins over Washington State and Siena plus played an exciting contest against Creighton, where they lost 83-79. Villanova brings a balanced attack led by senior James Bell and junior JayVaughn Pinkston. Both wing players are averaging 16.6 points per contest. Bell is also second on the team in rebounding with 6.5 boards per game.
Jay Wright's deep rotation will also play a big factor against the Hawks. Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins and Dylan Ennis come off the bench and combine for 24.5 points, nearly one-third of Villanova's offensive output.
Despite how much criticism the "Holy War" has generated for the creative naming between the two private institutions that are separated by six miles, Head Coach Jay Wright describes the rivalry as "intense."
From Mike Sheridan of the Villanova Athletic Department
"You can never tell how intense it's going to be," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "You just know the intensity is going to be up there. It's St. Joe-Villanova - there's nothing like it in college basketball. It's an honor to be a part of."
In seven games, the Hawks have attacked opposing defenses on all three levels of the basketball court: the back, the wing and the front. Langston Galloway leads the team in scoring with 18.1 points per game and is followed by athletic big man, Ronald Roberts Jr. with 17.7 points and 7.4 boards. Freshman swingman DeAndre Bembry brings up the rear with 10.1 points in 31 minutes.
More interestingly, Halil Kanacevic is leading the team in rebounding (7.7) and assists (4.1) from the post. Kanacevic also adds 8.6 points per game for the Hawks. As the Wildcats face their first major road test of the season on Saturday night, Wright admits that they've been playing sloppy as of late.
"Right now we could easily be 6-2," noted Wright. "We've just had guys step up and make big shots at critical times. That's what being a team is all about. These guys have confidence in their teammates that it can be a different guy's time every night."
The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network at 6 p.m. eastern time. It can be heard on radio at 610 WIP.