Villanova vs Temple

Time: 04:00 P.M. EST
  •  

With a pair of close victories, Villanova has regained its Big East footing after a blowout loss. It now takes a night off from conference play to try to finish the job within Philadelphia's Big Five.

The ninth-ranked Wildcats make the short commute to Temple on Saturday hoping to complete a 4-0 city series with a win over the struggling Owls.

Villanova coach Jay Wright says the games against Philadelphia foes fit right in with his team's Big East mentality.

"I have always said that when we play in our Big Five games in November and December, it's like a Big East game," Wright told the school's official website. "It doesn't seem strange to play this now. I have always looked at these games like Big East games. It seems like another road game in a tough environment."

The Wildcats (18-2) are in the Big Five driver's seat with city wins over Penn, Saint Joseph's and La Salle. Temple (6-13), however, can still claim a share of the title. The Owls beat Penn and Saint Joseph's but lost to La Salle.

Temple and La Salle each finished 3-1 last season as the Owls shared the title for a second straight season. Villanova last won it in 2010-11 and has fallen to Temple the last two seasons, including a 76-61 home loss last season.

Wright expects another tough fight despite the Owls' down record.

"They're good," Wright said. "They're a team very similar to us last year - a team that lost a lot of experienced, successful players and now everyone is learning a new role. Dalton Pepper is really coming into his own as a leading scorer and they're learning how to play together."

Despite winning twice since their 96-68 home loss to Creighton on Jan. 20, things didn't come easy for the Wildcats at Marquette or Georgetown. Villanova blew a nine-point lead in the final 2:36 of regulation in a 94-85 overtime win over the Golden Eagles, then matched a season low with 18 field goals in Monday's 65-60 victory over the Hoyas.

"We haven't been pretty in either one of them," Wright said. "But we found a way."

Guard James Bell led the way on an otherwise uninspiring offensive night against Georgetown with 16 points. The senior has averaged 20.5 over his last four games to increase his team-leading average to 15.1.

Temple is 0-3 against ranked teams as the inaugural season of the American Athletic Conference is proving more difficult than it had hoped. However, it has beaten a top-10 opponent in five straight seasons.

The Owls had lost eight straight - their longest losing streak since 1975-76 - before Wednesday's 88-82 home win over Rutgers, their first league victory.

"We need to build on this. We have a tough game Saturday," coach Fran Dunphy said. "... We needed it. We needed it very, very badly, and I was proud of our guys."

Pepper (18.0 points per game) scored 20 points while Will Cummings (16.5) led the way with 21.

"Certainly his playmaking was great," Dunphy said of Cummings, who had a career-high eight assists and one turnover.

Along with Quenton DeCosey's 15.6 and Anthony Lee's 14.2, Temple is the only Division I team with four players averaging at least 14.0 points.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
 

Big East
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Villanova15-332-41
Butler12-625-915
Creighton10-825-1026
Seton Hall10-821-1244
Providence10-820-1356
Marquette10-819-1361
Xavier9-924-1437
St. Johns7-1114-19140
Georgetown5-1314-18107
DePaul2-169-23236
American Athletic
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
SMU17-130-513
Cincinnati16-230-612
Houston12-621-1154
UCF11-724-1269
Memphis9-919-13121
UConn9-916-17119
Tulsa8-1015-17132
Temple7-1116-16135
E. Carolina6-1215-18214
Tulane3-156-25298
So. Florida1-177-23316

Related Video

 

CBSSports Shop

Men's Nike White Villanova Wildcats 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt

Villanova Wildcats 2016 National Champs
Get the Locker Room Gear!
Shop Now

 
 
 
Other Games
OHST 59 Final
WISC 58
UK 84 Final
MIZZ 79
BAYL 76 Final
OKST 70
MEMP 72 Final
SMU 87
GMU 81 Final
STL 87
MIST 60 Final
GTOWN 64
EVAN 67 Final
WICH 81
TXAM 36 Final
FLA 69
OKLA 75 Final
IAST 81
KAN 69 Final
TEXAS 81
MASS 68 Final
STJOE 73
DUKE 89 Final
SYR 91
CSU 56 Final
SDSU 65
IOWA 81 Final
ILL 74
UCF 70 Final
LOU 87
ARIZ 58 Final
CAL 60